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Stephen Saupe, Biology


Composting facilities, because of the processes that occur there, may be associated with increased fungal spore loads in the air. We monitored the spore loads present at a newly activated composting facility (Mississippi Topsoils, Inc.; Cold Spring, MN) before and after its activation during October and November of 1999. Petri dishes were arrayed on the downwind side of the compost site and exposed for a range of time periods. The exposed petri dishes were incubated for 48 hours and the number of yeast-like, filamentous, and total fungal colonyforming-units (CFUs) was recorded. The spore load data were also compared to weather data taken from the Minnesota Climatology Working Group's St. Cloud station in order to make connections between climate and spore loads. We found that the total number of CFUs decreased after activation and that there is a direct relationship between temperaturdwind speed and magnitude of the spore load. The decrease in CFUs is most likely related to decreasing seasonal temperatures. We were unable to detect an impact of the compost facility on CFU density.

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