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Expanding Single Particle Mass Spectrometer Analyses for the Identification of Microbe Signatures in Sea Spray Aerosol

TitleExpanding Single Particle Mass Spectrometer Analyses for the Identification of Microbe Signatures in Sea Spray Aerosol
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsSultana C.M, Al-Mashat H., Prather KA
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Date Published2017/10
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0003-2700
Accession NumberWOS:000412716800011
Keywordsbacillus-atrophaeus spores; bacteria; cells; crystallization; drops; laser desorption/ionization; ocean; signatures; size; spectral; surface microlayer

Ocean-derived microbes in sea spray aersosol (SSA) have the potential to influence climate and weather by acting as ice nucleating particles in clouds. Single particle mass spectrometers (SPMSs), which generate in situ single particle composition data, are excellent tools for characterizing aerosols under changing environmental conditions as they can provide high temporal resolution and require no sample preparation. While SPMSs have proven capable of detecting microbes, these instruments have never been utilized to definitively identify aerosolized microbes in ambient sea spray aersosol. In this study, an aerosol time-of-flight mass spectrometer was used to analyze laboratory generated SSA produced from natural seawater in a marine aerosol reference tank. We present the first description of a population of biological SSA mass spectra (BioSS), which closely match the ion signatures observed in previous terrestrial microbe studies. The fraction of BioSS dramatically increased in the largest supermicron particles, consistent with field and laboratory measurements of microbes ejected by bubble bursting, further supporting the assignment of BioSS mass spectra as microbes. Finally, as supported by analysis of inorganic ion signals, we propose that dry BioSS particles have heterogeneous structures, with microbes adhered to sodium chloride nodules surrounded by magnesium-enriched coatings. Consistent with this structure, chlorine-containing ion markers were ubiquitous in BioSS spectra and identified as possible tracers for distinguishing recently aerosolized marine from terrestrial microbes.

Short TitleAnal. Chem.
Student Publication: