Sampling efficiency and nucleic acid stability during long-term sampling with different bioaerosol samplers

Environ Monit Assess. 2024 May 25;196(6):577. doi: 10.1007/s10661-024-12735-7.


Aerosol microbiome studies have received increased attention as technological advancements have made it possible to dive deeper into the microbial diversity. To enhance biomass collection for metagenomic sequencing, long-term sampling is a common strategy. While the impact of prolonged sampling times on microorganisms' culturability and viability is well-established, its effect on nucleic acid stability remains less understood but is essential to ensure representative sample collection. This study evaluated four air samplers (SKC BioSampler, SASS3100, Coriolis μ, BioSpot-VIVAS 300-P) against a reference sampler (isopore membrane filters) to identify nucleic acid stability during long-term sampling. Physical sampling efficiencies determined with a fluorescent tracer for three particle sizes (0.8, 1, and 3 μm), revealed high efficiencies (> 80% relative to reference) for BioSampler, SASS3100, and BioSpot-VIVAS for all particle sizes, and for Coriolis with 3 μm particles. Coriolis exhibited lower efficiency for 0.8 μm (7%) and 1 μm (50%) particles. During 2-h sampling with MS2 and Pantoea agglomerans, liquid-based collection with Coriolis and BioSampler showed a decrease in nucleic acid yields for all test conditions. BioSpot-VIVAS displayed reduced sampling efficiency for P. agglomerans compared to MS2 and the other air samplers, while filter-based collection with SASS3100 and isopore membrane filters, showed indications of DNA degradation for 1 μm particles of P. agglomerans after long-term sampling. These findings show that long-term air sampling affects nucleic acid stability in both liquid- and filter-based collection methods. These results highlight bias produced by bioaerosol collection and should be considered when selecting an air sampler and interpreting aerosol microbiome data.

Keywords: Air sampler; Bioaerosol; Nucleic acid stability; Sampling efficiency.

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols* / analysis
  • Air Microbiology*
  • Air Pollutants / analysis
  • Environmental Monitoring* / instrumentation
  • Environmental Monitoring* / methods
  • Microbiota
  • Nucleic Acids* / analysis
  • Particle Size


  • Aerosols
  • Nucleic Acids
  • Air Pollutants