Smoke from wildfires can carry microbes and has likely done so for millions of years

Smoke from wildfires can carry microbes and has likely done so for millions of years

Smoke from wildfires is a major source of pollution in northern California, but relatively new science shows how puffy plumes can also carry life of the smallest size from region to region. Over the past few years, Leda Kobziar of the University of Idaho has worked to increase the scientific community’s understanding of how smoke can rise and carry microscopic bacteria and fungi from one area to another. other. She says that since wildfires are a natural part of the western ecosystem, this phenomenon has probably been happening for a long, long time. “The phenomenon is not new, but our understanding is, Kobziar said. “And it’s likely that this transport affects everything. It has probably acted as a microbial dispersal agent for many millennia. Scientists like Kobziar have only really started to dig deep into this area of ​​fire science in the last 5 years. Due to the novelty of these findings, it is unclear whether the presence of microbes in smoky air has any noticeable effect on human health. As climate change continues to influence drought cycles in the West, Kobziar said it’s possible higher concentrations of microbes will end up in smoke plumes in the future. in the convective currents created by the fire,” Kobziar said. “We suspect that soil organisms are more mobilized in smoke plumes than they have in the past simply because the soils are drier. Kobziar and other scientists at the University of Idaho will continue their research by collecting smoke samples using drones and other remote sensing devices. At the same time, UC Davis health scientists will examine potential future health impacts. what are they. It’s just a very, very big world of unknowns at this point,” Kobziar said. But the idea that different wildfires can carry microbes into environments where they wouldn’t otherwise exist may have implications for the agricultural industry. really interesting questions about where we know there are crop pathogens,” Kobziar said. “If this area burns, it is possible that these things will be transported. The two main questions then are whether or not these microbes would survive their smoky journey. and what would happen to the new environment they would land in. Kobziar plans to seek answers to both with future research.

Smoke from wildfires is a major source of pollution in northern California, but relatively new science shows how puffy plumes can also carry life of the smallest size from region to region.

Over the past few years, Leda Kobziar of the University of Idaho has worked to increase the scientific community’s understanding of how smoke can rise and carry microscopic bacteria and fungi from one area to another. other.

She says that since wildfires are a natural part of the western ecosystem, this phenomenon has probably been happening for a long, long time.

“The phenomenon is not new, but our understanding is, Kobziar said. “And it’s likely that this transport affects everything. It has probably acted as a microbial dispersal agent for millennia. »

Scientists like Kobziar have only really started to delve into this area of ​​fire science in the last 5 years. Due to the novelty of these findings, it is unclear whether the presence of microbes in smoky air has any noticeable effect on human health.

As climate change continues to influence drought cycles in the West, Kobziar said it’s possible higher concentrations of microbes could be found in smoke plumes in the future.

“When fuels and soils are drier, it’s easier for them to get caught up in the convection currents created by the fire,” Kobziar said. “We suspect that soil organisms are more mobilized in smoke plumes than they have in the past simply because the soils are drier.

Kobziar and other scientists at the University of Idaho will continue their research by collecting smoke samples using drones and other remote sensing devices. At the same time, UC Davis health scientists will look at potential future health impacts.

Kobziar said the exact types of microbes present in a smoke plume can vary widely with each fire.

“It really depends on where they come from and what they are. It’s just a very, very big world of unknowns at this point,” Kobziar said.

But the idea that different wildfires can carry microbes into environments where they wouldn’t otherwise exist may have implications for the agricultural industry.

“It raises some really interesting questions about where we know there are crop pathogens,” Kobziar said. “If this area burns, it’s possible that these things will be transported.”

The two main questions then are whether or not these microbes would survive their smoky journey and what would happen to the new environment in which they landed. Kobziar plans to seek answers to both with future research.

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