Assessing long-distance atmospheric transport of soilborne plant pathogens

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These files contain data supporting results in Brodsky et al. Assessing Long-Distance Atmospheric Transport of Soilborne Plant Pathogens. In Brodsky et al. we modify an atmospheric transport model to simulate the global transport of a plant pathogenic soilborne fungus. Pathogenic fungi are a leading cause of crop disease and primarily spread through microscopic, durable spores adapted differentially for both persistence and dispersal via soil, animals, water, and/or the atmosphere. Computational Earth System Models and air pollution models have been used to simulate atmospheric spore transport for aerial-dispersal-adapted (airborne) rust diseases, but the importance of atmospheric spore transport for soil-dispersal- adapted (soilborne) diseases remains unknown. While a few existing simulation studies have focused on intracontinental dispersion, transoceanic and intercontinental atmospheric transport of soilborne spores entrained in agricultural dust aerosols is understudied and may contribute to disease spread. This study adapts the Community Atmosphere Model, the atmospheric component of the Community Earth System Model, to simulate the global transport of the plant pathogenic soilborne fungus Fusarium oxysporum (F. oxy). Our sensitivity study assesses the model’s accuracy in long-distance aerosol transport and the impact of deposition rate on long- distance spore transport in Summer 2020 during a major dust transport event from Northern Sub- Saharan Africa to the Caribbean and southeastern U.S. We find that decreasing wet and dry deposition rates by an order of magnitude improves representation of long-distance, trans- Atlantic dust transport. Simulations also suggest that a small number of viable spores can survive trans-Atlantic transport to be deposited in agricultural zones. This number is dependent on source spore parameterization, which we improved through a literature search to yield a global map of F. oxy spore distribution in source agricultural soils. Using this map and aerosol transport modeling, we show how viable spore numbers in the atmosphere decrease with distance traveled and offer a novel danger index for viable spore deposition in agricultural zones. Our work finds that intercontinental transport of viable spores to cropland is greatest between Eurasia, North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa, suggesting that future observational studies should concentrate on these regions.

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Please cite as: Brodsky, H., Calderón, R., Hamilton, D., Li, L., Miles, A., Pavlick, R., Gold, K., Crandall, S., Mahowald, N. (2023) Assessing Long-Distance Atmospheric Transport of Soilborne Plant Pathogens [dataset] Cornell University eCommons Repository.


HKB, RC, KMG, SGC, RP, and NMM would like to acknowledge the support of NASA (80NSSC20K1533). Additionally, a portion of this research was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (80NM0018D0004). We would also like to acknowledge high-performance computing support from Cheyenne (doi:10.5065/D6RX99HX) provided by NCAR's Computational and Information Systems Laboratory, sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

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Earth System Model; dust; spore; pathogen; plant disease


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Brodsky, H., Calderón, R., Hamilton, D., Li, L., Miles, A., Pavlick, R., Gold, K., Crandall, S., Mahowald, N. (2023). Assessing Long-Distance Atmospheric Transport of Soilborne Plant Pathogens. Environmental Research Letters.

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CC0 1.0 Universal



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