Biology Prefixes and Suffixes: Aer- or Aero-

Pollen in Wind
Timothy grass (Phleum pratense) pollen being blown by wind. Pollen and dust are examples of aeroallergens. They are airborne particles that can induce an allergic reaction. Pal Hermansen/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Definition: Aer- or Aero-

The prefix (aer- or aero-) refers to air, oxygen, or a gas. It comes from the Greek aer meaning air or referring to the lower atmosphere.


Aerate (aer-ate) - to expose to air circulation or to gas. It may also refer to supplying blood with oxygen as occurs in respiration.

Aerenchyma (aer-en-chyma) - specialized tissue in some plants that form gaps or channels that allow air circulation between the roots and shoot. This tissue is commonly found in aquatic plants.

Aeroallergen (aero-aller-gen) - a small airborne substance (pollen, dust, spores, etc.) that can enter the respiratory tract and induce an immune response or allergic reaction.

Aerobe (aer-obe) - an organism that requires oxygen for respiration and can only exist and grow in the presence of oxygen.

Aerobic (aer-o-bic) - means occurring with oxygen and commonly refers to aerobic organisms. Aerobes require oxygen for respiration and can only live in the presence of oxygen.

Aerobiology (aero-biology) - the study of both living and nonliving constituents of the air that can induce an immune response. Examples of airborne particles include dust, fungi, algae, pollen, insects, bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens.

Aerobioscope (aero-bio-scope) - an instrument used to collect and analyze air to determine its bacterial count.

Aerocele (aero-cele) - the build up of air or gas in a small natural cavity. These formations may develop into cysts or tumors in the lungs.

Aerocoly (aero-coly) - a condition characterized by the accumulation of gas in the colon.

Aerococcus (aero-coccus) - a genus of airborne bacteria first identified in air samples. They are part of the normal flora of bacteria that live on the skin.

Aerodermectasia (aero-derm-ectasia) - a condition characterized by the accumulation of air in subcutaneous (under the skin) tissue. Also called subcutaneous emphysema, this condition may develop from a ruptured airway or air sac in the lungs.

Aerodontalgia (aero-dont-algia) - tooth pain that develops due to changes in atmospheric air pressure. It is often associated with flying at high altitudes.

Aeroembolism (aero-embol-ism) - a blood vessel obstruction caused by air or gas bubbles in the cardiovascular system.

Aerogastralgia (aero-gastr-algia) - stomach pain resulting from excess air in the stomach.

Aerogen (aero-gen) - a bacterium or microbe that produces gas.

Aeroparotitis (aero-parot-itis) - inflammation or swelling of the parotid glands resulting from the abnormal presence of air. These glands produce saliva and are located around the mouth and throat area.

Aeropathy (aero-pathy) - a general term referring to any sickness resulting from a change in atmospheric pressure. It is sometimes called air sickness, altitude sickness, or decompression sickness.

Aerophagia (aero-phagia) - the act of swallowing excessive amounts of air. This can lead to digestive system discomfort, bloating, and intestinal pain.

Anaerobe (an-aer-obe) - an organism that does not require oxygen for respiration and can exist in the absence of oxygen. Facultative anaerobes can live and develop with or without oxygen. Obligate anaerobes can live only in the absence of oxygen.

Anaerobic (an-aer-o-bic) - means occurring without oxygen and commonly refers to anaerobic organisms. Anaerobes, such as some bacteria and archaeans, live and grow in the absence of oxygen.