Fungal Metagenomic Analysis of Indoor Evaporative Cooler Environments in the Great Basin Desert Region
Sunday, March 6, 2016: 2:15 PM
Room 502A (Convention Center)
Angela R. Lemons, MS, , , , , ,
Rationale: Personal exposure to fungal bioaerosols can increase the risk of respiratory disease, including allergy and asthma. Skin test reactivity to fungal and dust mite allergens has recently been shown to be increased in children living in homes cooled by evaporative coolers in the Great Basin Desert region. The objective of this study was to determine if the increased humidity reported in these homes leads to different fungal populations compared to homes cooled using traditional systems.  

Methods: Children from Reno, Nevada with physician diagnosed asthma and/or allergy that lived in environments cooled by evaporative coolers (n=10) or air conditioner systems (n=9) were recruited into the study. Air samples were collected from indoor living environments for genomic DNA extraction and metagenomic analysis of fungi using the next-generation sequencing platform, Illumina Mi-Seq.

Results: The fungal populations observed in homes that utilized evaporative coolers differed greatly from air conditioned homes. The most prevalent species discovered in air conditioned environments belonged to the genera Cryptococcus (20%) and Aspergillus (20%). In contrast, the most predominant fungi identified in homes that utilized evaporative coolers included Alternaria alternata (32%) and Phoma spp. (21%).  Outdoor air in the region revealed a high prevalence of Cladosporium spp. (25%) and Davidiella spp. (43%).

Conclusions: Metagenomic analysis of air samples derived from air conditioned and evaporative cooler environments revealed differences in fungal populations. These variations could explain the increased skin test reactivity and disease severity reported in pediatric populations that live in evaporative cooler environments located in this region.