Ecological succession of the microbial communities of an air-conditioning cooling coil in the tropics

E. Acerbi, C. Chénard, D. Miller, N. E. Gaultier, C. E. Heinle, V. W-C Chang, A. Uchida, D. I. Drautz-Moses, S. C. Schuster, F. M. Lauro*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Air-conditioning systems harbor microorganisms, potentially spreading them to indoor environments. While air and surfaces in air-conditioning systems are periodically sampled as potential sources of indoor microbes, little is known about the dynamics of cooling coil-associated communities and their effect on the downstream airflow. Here, we conducted a 4-week time series sampling to characterize the succession of an air-conditioning duct and cooling coil after cleaning. Using an universal primer pair targeting hypervariable regions of the 16S/18S ribosomal RNA, we observed a community succession for the condensed water, with the most abundant airborne taxon Agaricomycetes fungi dominating the initial phase and Sphingomonas bacteria becoming the most prevalent taxa toward the end of the experiment. Duplicate air samples collected upstream and downstream of the coil suggest that the system does not act as ecological filter or source/sink for specific microbial taxa during the duration of the experiment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-353
Number of pages9
JournalIndoor Air
Issue number2
Early online date24 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • 16S
  • Airborne
  • Bacteria
  • Cooling coil-associated microbial communities
  • Fungi
  • HVAC systems


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