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Appl Microbiol. 1975 Mar;29(3):352-7.

Effect of relative humidity on the survival of airborne unicellular algae.


A method is described which is suitable for assessing the effects of relative humidity (RH) on the viability of two unicellular algae in experimental aerosols. Viable cells of Nannochloris atomus collected from the airborne state were detected by plating onto agar surfaces of an appropriate growth medium, whereas viable airborne cells of Synechococcus sp., because of unreliable growth on solid media, were determined by a liquid assay system. The assays were performed at intervals during short-term and prolonged storage of algal aerosols in chambers preconditioned to a selected RH and temperature. Both species showed the greatest loss in viability during the first minute after atomization, and the extent of this inactivation, as a function of RH, reflected the subsequent long-term survival. The airborne eukaryotic alga was unable to survive at an RH below 91%, whereas the airborne prokaryotic alga was comparatively stable over a wide humidity range. Initial inactivation was least and long-term survival best, for both species, at 94% RH.

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