Atmospheric cloud water contains a diverse bacterial community

Peter S. Kourtev, Kimberly A. Hill, Paul B. Shepson, Allan Konopka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Atmospheric cloud water contains an active microbial community which can impact climate, human health and ecosystem processes in terrestrial and aquatic systems. Most studies on the composition of microbial communities in clouds have been performed with orographic clouds that are typically in direct contact with the ground. We collected water samples from cumulus clouds above the upper U.S. Midwest. The cloud water was analyzed for the diversity of bacterial phylotypes by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) and sequencing of 16S rRNA gene amplicons. DGGE analyses of bacterial communities detected 17-21 bands per sample. Sequencing confirmed the presence of a diverse bacterial community; sequences from seven bacterial phyla were retrieved. Cloud water bacterial communities appeared to be dominated by members of the cyanobacteria, proteobacteria, actinobacteria and firmicutes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5399-5405
Number of pages7
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number30
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • 16S rDNA
  • Bacteria
  • Cloud water


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