I understand so far that most of the air surrounding us contains mold spores so that given the right environment and a food source they start to grow. I assume this is true for air close to the earth. But how high mold spores are still common?

To clarify: I don't want to grow mold, I want to know how high into the air on earth mold spores are usually common.

  • $\begingroup$ You can grow molds in space if you give the right condition. You need to add details to your question; details about different parameters that you want to consider. Are you asking about natural distribution of fungi? $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Jun 14 '15 at 18:41
  • $\begingroup$ You can have a look at this article. $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Jun 14 '15 at 18:44
  • $\begingroup$ @WYSIWYG: Seems this article checks for the distribution of fungi growing at the ground in mountain-areas with higher altitude. I'm asking for the spores distributed through the air, to which altitude above ground they are still available. $\endgroup$ – Mnementh Jun 14 '15 at 18:55

Air currents can carry bacteria and mold spores into stratospheric altitudes. Early balloon collections found bacteria and mold in air samples at a little above 71 thousand feet altitude. There were only a few colonies, but we also know that our bacterial media often do not allow many microorganisms to grow.

More recent studies of the atmospheric microbiome have indicated that a wide variety of bacteria and fungi can routinely be found in the atmosphere thousands of feet up. Modern measurements find about 10 million living microbes per cubic meter.

Sandstorms or jet streams are known to be able to move living bacteria long distances. Spores are often of about the same size and I see no reason why we will not find that they do the same.

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    $\begingroup$ I remember reading in an HHMI bulletin about a rate infectious disease in babies. Apparently the pathogen is carried by seasonal air currents over very large distances. I am trying to remember more details. $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Jun 15 '15 at 4:58
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    $\begingroup$ Ohh yes. It is the Kawasaki disease but the hypothesis is still open as the causative agent is not yet identified. $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Jun 15 '15 at 5:14
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    $\begingroup$ Small addition: This article talks about Aspergillus spores being carried to Caribbean from Africa, by dust storms. However it also mentions that that dust free wind does not have spores. Perhaps you would like to add this in your answer. $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Jun 15 '15 at 5:18
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    $\begingroup$ Stratospheric altitudes sounds scary. Anyways, for all europeans like me: 71000 feet = 21640 meter. $\endgroup$ – Mnementh Jun 15 '15 at 9:31
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    $\begingroup$ No problem, different countries have different units. This needed only a quick Google, Google puts that on the result-site. I added it in the comment for convenience. $\endgroup$ – Mnementh Jun 16 '15 at 10:56

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