Microbial Species and Biodiversity in Settling Dust within and between Pig Farms

John Kerr White, Jeppe Lund Nielsen, Anne Mette Madsen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
106 Downloads (Pure)


The airborne fungal and bacterial species present in pig farm dust have not been well characterised even though these bioaerosols are known to cause inflammation and other airway maladies. In this study, the microbial species and composition in airborne dust within and between pig farms were investigated. Passively sedimenting dust from six pig farms were collected using electrostatic dust collectors. The bacterial and fungal species were identified using matrix-assisted laser desorption-ionisation time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) and next generation sequencing (NGS). Dust samples taken within the same stable section revealed high resemblance and stability. Constrained statistical analysis of the microbial community compositions indicated that the types of stable did not appear to have a great effect on the bacterial and fungal β-diversity. In contrast to this, the farm from which samples were taken appeared to have the greatest effect on the bacterial β-diversity, but this trend was not observed for the fungal β-diversity. The most common bacteria and fungi according to NGS data were anaerobes typically associated with the pig intestinal tract and yeasts respectively. Bacterial sedimentation varied at a rate between 10 3 and 10 9 CFU/m 2 /day, with the most common species after aerobic incubation being Aerococcus viridans and Staphylococcus equorum, while Clostridium perfringens and Staphylococcus simulans were the most common species after anaerobic incubation. A total of 28 different species of bacteria and fungi were classifiable as pathogens. In conclusion, the biodiversity in pig farm dust shows a high diversity of bacterial species. However, samples from the same stable section resembled each other, but also different sections within the same farm also resembled each other, thus indicating a high degree of community stability in the dust source. In regards to fungal identification, the biodiversity was observed to be similar between samples from different stable sections and farms, indicating a higher degree of similarities in the mycobiomes found across pig farms studied.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Research
Pages (from-to)558-567
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


  • Airborne fungi
  • Bioaerosol
  • Occupational exposure
  • Pathogenic microbes
  • Pig farming


Dive into the research topics of 'Microbial Species and Biodiversity in Settling Dust within and between Pig Farms'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this