Relative abundance of saccharides, free amino acids, and other compounds in specific pollen species for source profiling of atmospheric aerosol

Sci Total Environ. 2021 Dec 10:799:149254. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.149254. Epub 2021 Jul 27.


Though studies in bioaerosols are being conducted with increasing frequency over the past decade, the total breadth of knowledge on bioaerosols and their role in atmospheric processes is still minimal. In order to better characterize the chemical composition of fresh biological aerosol for purposes of source apportionment and tracing in the atmosphere, several plant pollen species were selected for detailed chemical analyses. For this purpose, different pollen species were purchased and collected around Reno, Nevada, USA, for further extraction and detailed chemical analysis. These species included aspen, corn, pecan, ragweed, eastern cottonwood, paper mulberry, rabbitbrush, bitterbrush, lodgepole pine, and Jeffrey pine. Saccharides, free amino acids, and various other polar compounds (e.g., anhydrosugars and resin acids) were quantitatively analyzed using gas chromatography and ultra-high performance liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry techniques (GC-MS and UPLC-MS), with the purpose to identify differences and nuances in chemical composition of specific pollen species. The saccharides β-d-fructose, α-d-glucose, and β-d-glucose were ubiquitously found across all pollen samples (10), and sucrose was found in five samples. d-galactose was also found in pine species. Total saccharides were 4.0 to 29% of total dry weight across all samples. Total free amino acids were 0.29% to 15% of total dry weight across all samples, with the most common amino acid being proline. Chemical profiles (including both saccharides and amino acids) of surface-deposited aerosol in the Lake Tahoe area correlated most closely with pine pollen than other analyzed pollen species, indicating that chemical profiles of pollen can be used to infer its contribution to local aerosols.

Keywords: Amino acid; Anhydrosugar; Atmospheric aerosol; Bioaerosol; Pollen; Resin acid; Saccharide.

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols
  • Amino Acids*
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Pollen
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry*


  • Aerosols
  • Amino Acids