The atmosphere is an extreme environment where organisms are subject to low temperatures and high radiation. Many of the microorganisms detected there appear in resistant forms or show mechanisms of adaptation designed to withstand these extreme conditions. Airborne microorganisms may play an important role in the global climate system, biogeochemical cycling, and health. Dust storms are the atmospheric phenomenon that move more topsoil through the Earth’s atmosphere, and numerous microorganisms attached to dust particles are thus transported. The Iberian Peninsula is periodically affected by this phenomenon as African dust frequently reaches southern Europe and the Mediterranean basin. There are numerous methods for sampling airborne microbes, but factors such as low biomass and high variability of the atmosphere render them not yet sufficiently efficient. Very few studies have been conducted directly in the atmosphere via sampling using airborne platforms. The National Institute for Aerospace Technology has two CASA C-212-200 aircraft that have been suitably modified to operate as airborne research platforms. These aircraft are a unique tool for the study of atmospheric microbial diversity and the different environments where they can be found. A study of the airborne microbial diversity in a Saharan dust event from four aerobiology sampling flights is provided in advance.
Part of the book: Extremophilic Microbes and Metabolites