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Hydroxy Fatty Acids In Fresh Snow Samples From Northern Japan: Long-range Atmospheric Transport Of Gram-negative Bacteria By Asian Winter Monsoon

P. Tyagi, S. Yamamoto, K. Kawamura

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Abstract. Hydroxy fatty acids (FAs) in fresh snow from Sapporo, one of the heaviest snowfall regions in the world, have been studied to ascertain the airborne bacterial endotoxin concentrations and their biomass. The presence of β-hydroxy FAs (C9–C28), constituents of the Gram-negative bacterium (GNB), suggests long-range transport of soil microbes. Likewise, the occurrence of α- and ω-hydroxy FAs (C9–C30 and C9–C28, respectively) in snow reveals their contribution from epicuticular waxes and soil microorganisms. Estimated endotoxin and GNB mass can aid in assessing their possible impacts on the diversity and functioning of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, as well as lethal effects on pedestrians through dispersal of microbes. Air mass back trajectories together with hydroxy FAs reveal their sources from Siberia, the Russian Far East and northern China by the Asian monsoon. This study highlights the role of fresh snow that reduces the human health risk of GNB and endotoxin by the scavenging from air.