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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2012 Jun;78(11):3999-4007. doi: 10.1128/AEM.07879-11. Epub 2012 Mar 23.

Effects of airflow and changing humidity on the aerosolization of respirable fungal fragments and conidia of Botrytis cinerea.

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The National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Copenhagen, Denmark.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the aerosolization of particles (micro- and macroconidia and fragments) from Botrytis cinerea cultures in relation to potential human inhalation in indoor environments. The influence of the following factors on the aerosolization of B. cinerea particles was studied: exposure to airflow, relative humidity (rh), changing rh, and plant or building materials. The aerodynamic diameter (d(a)) and the respirable fraction of the aerosolized particles were determined. Conidia and fragments of B. cinerea were not aerosolized as a response to a decrease in the rh. In contrast, both micro- and macroconidia and fungal fragments were aerosolized when exposed to an airflow of 1.5 m s(-1) or 0.5 m s(-1). Significantly more particles of microconidial size and fragment size were aerosolized at a low rh (18 to 40% rh) than at a higher rh (60 to 80% rh) when cultures were exposed to airflow. The size of the respirable fraction of the aerosolized particles was dependent on the rh but not on the growth material. At high rh, about 30% of the aerosolized particles were of respirable size, while at low rh, about 70% were of respirable size. During low rh, more fungal (1→3)-β-d-glucan and chitinase were aerosolized than during high rh. In conclusion, exposure to external physical forces such as airflow is necessary for the aerosolization of particles from B. cinerea. The amount and size distribution are highly affected by the rh, and more particles of respirable sizes were aerosolized at low rh than at high rh.

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