Indoor fungal composition is geographically patterned and more diverse in temperate zones than in the tropics
Fungi are ubiquitous components of indoor human environments, where most contact between humans and microbes occurs. The majority of these organisms apparently play a neutral role, but some are detrimental to human lifestyles and health. Recent studies that used culture-independent sampling methods demonstrated a high diversity of indoor fungi distinct from that of outdoor environments. Others have shown temporal fluctuations of fungal assemblages in human environments and modest correlations with human activity, but global-scale patterns have not been examined, despite the manifest significance of biogeography in other microbial systems. Here we present a global survey of fungi from indoor environments (n = 72), using both taxonomic and phylogeny-informative molecular markers to determine whether global or local indoor factors determine indoor fungal composition. Contrary to common ecological patterns, we show that fungal diversity is significantly higher in temperate zones than in the tropics, with distance from the equator being the best predictor of phylogenetic community similarity. Fungal composition is significantly auto-correlated at the national and hemispheric spatial scales. Remarkably, building function has no significant effect on indoor fungal composition, despite stark contrasts between architecture and materials of some buildings in close proximity. Distribution of individual taxa is significantly range- and latitude-limited compared with a null model of randomized distribution. Our results suggest that factors driving fungal composition are primarily global rather than mediated by building design or function.