at the

University of Massachusetts Amherst





“What is Aerobiology?”

This was one of the first questions I was asked as a new faculty member at the university. Aerobiology is the study of airborne biological material. There is quite a lot of biological material in the air and the study of it reveals interesting and important relationships between organisms and their environment and our interaction (perhaps inadvertently) with them. The types of organisms that become airborne come from several large groups such as Bacteria, Fungi, and Viruses. In addition, parts of almost any organism can and often do become airborne. Examples are pollen grains from plants, allergens from mammals or rodents such as dogs, cats, mice or rats, as well as insect parts. Birds and larger insects that have self directed movement in air are typically excluded but otherwise anything biological that becomes entrained in air and moves passively with it falls within the field of aerobiology.