Diversity of DNA and RNA Viruses in Indoor Air As Assessed via Metagenomic Sequencing

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Diverse bacterial and fungal communities inhabit human-occupied buildings and circulate in indoor air; however, viral diversity in these man-made environments remains largely unknown. Here we investigated DNA and RNA viruses circulating in the air of 12 university dormitory rooms by analyzing dust accumulated over a one-year period on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) filters. A metagenomic sequencing approach was used to determine the identity and diversity of viral particles extracted from the HVAC filters. We detected a broad diversity of viruses associated with a range of hosts, including animals, arthropods, bacteria, fungi, humans, plants, and protists, suggesting that disparate organisms can contribute to indoor airborne viral communities. Viral community composition and the distribution of human-infecting papillomaviruses and polyomaviruses were distinct in the different dormitory rooms, indicating that airborne viral communities are variable in human-occupied spaces and appear to reflect differential rates of viral shedding from room occupants. This work significantly expands the known airborne viral diversity found indoors, enabling the design of sensitive and quantitative assays to further investigate specific viruses of interest and providing new insight into the likely sources of viruses found in indoor air.

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Environmental Science and Technology, v. 52, issue 3, p. 1014-1027