- Predicting abundances of invasive ragweed across Europe using a "top-down" approach. [Journal Article]
- STSci Total Environ 2019 May 17; 686:212-222
- Common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia L.) is a widely distributed and harmful invasive plant that is an important source of highly allergenic pollen grains and a prominent crop weed. As a result, r…
Common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia L.) is a widely distributed and harmful invasive plant that is an important source of highly allergenic pollen grains and a prominent crop weed. As a result, ragweed causes huge costs to both human health and agriculture in affected areas. Efficient mitigation requires accurate mapping of ragweed densities that, until now, has not been achieved accurately for the whole of Europe. Here we provide two inventories of common ragweed abundances with grid resolutions of 1 km and 10 km. These "top-down" inventories integrate pollen data from 349 stations in Europe with habitat and landscape management information, derived from land cover data and expert knowledge. This allows us to cover areas where surface observations are missing. Model results were validated using "bottom-up" data of common ragweed in Austria and Serbia. Results show high agreement between the two analytical methods. The inventory shows that areas with the lowest ragweed abundances are found in Northern and Southern European countries and the highest abundances are in parts of Russia, parts of Ukraine and the Pannonian Plain. Smaller hotspots are found in Northern Italy, the Rhône Valley in France and in Turkey. The top-down approach is based on a new approach that allows for cross-continental studies and is applicable to other anemophilous species. Due to its simplicity, it can be used to investigate such species that are difficult and costly to identify at larger scales using traditional vegetation surveys or remote sensing. The final inventory is open source and available as a georeferenced tif file, allowing for multiple usages, reducing costs for health services and agriculture through well-targeted management interventions.
- Estimating the daily pollen concentration in the atmosphere using machine learning and NEXRAD weather radar data. [Journal Article]
- EMEnviron Monit Assess 2019 Jun 07; 191(7):418
- Millions of people have an allergic reaction to pollen. The impact of pollen allergies is on the rise due to increased pollen levels caused by global warming and the spread of highly invasive weeds. …
Millions of people have an allergic reaction to pollen. The impact of pollen allergies is on the rise due to increased pollen levels caused by global warming and the spread of highly invasive weeds. The production, release, and dispersal of pollen depend on the ambient weather conditions. The temperature, rainfall, humidity, cloud cover, and wind are known to affect the amount of pollen in the atmosphere. In the past, various regression techniques have been applied to estimate and forecast the daily pollen concentration in the atmosphere based on the weather conditions. In this research, machine learning methods were applied to the Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD) data to estimate the daily Ambrosia pollen over a 300 km × 300 km region centered on a NEXRAD weather radar. The Neural Network and Random Forest machine learning methods have been employed to develop separate models to estimate Ambrosia pollen over the region. A feasible way of estimating the daily pollen concentration using only the NEXRAD radar data and machine learning methods would lay the foundation to forecast daily pollen at a fine spatial resolution nationally.
- Applying Deep Neural Networks and Ensemble Machine Learning Methods to Forecast Airborne Ambrosia Pollen. [Journal Article]
- IJInt J Environ Res Public Health 2019 Jun 04; 16(11)
- Allergies to airborne pollen are a significant issue affecting millions of Americans. Consequently, accurately predicting the daily concentration of airborne pollen is of significant public benefit i…
Allergies to airborne pollen are a significant issue affecting millions of Americans. Consequently, accurately predicting the daily concentration of airborne pollen is of significant public benefit in providing timely alerts. This study presents a method for the robust estimation of the concentration of airborne Ambrosia pollen using a suite of machine learning approaches including deep learning and ensemble learners. Each of these machine learning approaches utilize data from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) atmospheric weather and land surface reanalysis. The machine learning approaches used for developing a suite of empirical models are deep neural networks, extreme gradient boosting, random forests and Bayesian ridge regression methods for developing our predictive model. The training data included twenty-four years of daily pollen concentration measurements together with ECMWF weather and land surface reanalysis data from 1987 to 2011 is used to develop the machine learning predictive models. The last six years of the dataset from 2012 to 2017 is used to independently test the performance of the machine learning models. The correlation coefficients between the estimated and actual pollen abundance for the independent validation datasets for the deep neural networks, random forest, extreme gradient boosting and Bayesian ridge were 0.82, 0.81, 0.81 and 0.75 respectively, showing that machine learning can be used to effectively forecast the concentrations of airborne pollen.
- Development and validation of an Allergen Challenge Theatre (ACT) for grass and ragweed. [Letter]
- AAllergy 2019 May 30
- Four new Ophiostoma species associated with conifer- and hardwood-infesting bark and ambrosia beetles from the Czech Republic and Poland. [Journal Article]
- AVAntonie Van Leeuwenhoek 2019 May 28
- Fungi under the order Ophiostomatales (Ascomycota) are known to associate with various species of bark beetles (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae). In addition this group of fungi contains many t…
Fungi under the order Ophiostomatales (Ascomycota) are known to associate with various species of bark beetles (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae). In addition this group of fungi contains many taxa that can impart blue-stain on sapwood and some are important tree pathogens. A recent survey that focussed on the diversity of the Ophiostomatales in the forest ecosystems of the Czech Republic and Poland uncovered four putative new species. Phylogenetic analyses of four gene regions (ITS1-5.8S-ITS2 region, β-tubulin, calmodulin, and translation elongation factor 1-α) indicated that these four species are members of the genus Ophiostoma. All four newly described species can be distinguished from each other and from closely related species based on DNA sequence comparisons, morphological characters, growth rates, and their insect associations. Based on this study four new taxa can be circumscribed and the following names are provided: Ophiostoma pityokteinis sp. nov., Ophiostoma rufum sp. nov., Ophiostoma solheimii sp. nov., and Ophiostoma taphrorychi sp. nov. O. rufum sp. nov. is a member of the Ophiostoma piceae species complex, while O. pityokteinis sp. nov. resides in a discrete lineage within Ophiostoma s. stricto. O. taphrorychi sp. nov. together with O. distortum formed a well-supported clade in Ophiostoma s. stricto close to O. pityokteinis sp. nov. O. solheimii sp. nov. groups within a currently undefined lineage A, which also includes Ophiostoma grandicarpum and Ophiostoma microsporum. This study highlights the need for more intensive surveys that should include additional countries of Central Europe, insect vectors and host tree species in order to elucidate Ophiostoma species diversity in this region.
- Ragweed pollen and allergic symptoms in children: Results from a three-year longitudinal study. [Journal Article]
- STSci Total Environ 2019 Sep 15; 683:240-248
- Common ragweed is a highly allergenic invasive species in Europe, expected to become widespread under climate change. Allergy to ragweed manifests as eye, nasal and lung symptoms, and children may re…
Common ragweed is a highly allergenic invasive species in Europe, expected to become widespread under climate change. Allergy to ragweed manifests as eye, nasal and lung symptoms, and children may retain these throughout life. The dose-response relationship between symptoms and pollen concentrations is unclear. We undertook a longitudinal study, assessing the association between ragweed pollen concentration and allergic eye, nasal and lung symptoms in children living under a range of ragweed pollen concentrations in Croatia. Over three years, 85 children completed daily diaries, detailing allergic symptoms alongside daily location, activities and medication, resulting in 10,130 individual daily entries. The daily ragweed pollen concentration for the children's locations was obtained, alongside daily weather and air pollution. Parents completed a home/lifestyle/medical questionnaire. Generalised Additive Mixed Models established the relationship between pollen concentrations and symptoms, alongside other covariates. Eye symptoms were associated with mean daily pollen concentration over four days (day of symptoms plus 3 previous days); 61 grains/m3/day (95%CI: 45, 100) was the threshold at which 50% of children reported symptoms. Nasal symptoms were associated with mean daily pollen concentration over 12 days (day of symptoms plus 11 previous days); the threshold for 50% of children reporting symptoms was 40 grains/m3/day (95%CI: 24, 87). Lung symptoms showed a relationship with mean daily pollen concentration over 19 days (day of symptoms plus 18 previous days), with a threshold of 71 grains/m3/day (95%CI: 59, 88). Taking medication on the day of symptoms showed higher odds, suggesting responsive behaviour. Taking medication on the day prior to symptoms showed lower odds of reporting, indicating preventative behaviour. Different symptoms in children demonstrate varying dose-response relationships with ragweed pollen concentrations. Each symptom type responded to pollen exposure over different time periods. Using medication prior to symptoms can reduce symptom presence. These findings can be used to better manage paediatric ragweed allergy symptoms.
- Estimates of Present and Future Asthma Emergency Department Visits Associated With Exposure to Oak, Birch, and Grass Pollen in the United States. [Journal Article]
- GGeohealth 2019; 3(1):11-27
- Pollen is an important environmental cause of allergic asthma episodes. Prior work has established a proof of concept for assessing projected climate change impacts on future oak pollen exposure and …
Pollen is an important environmental cause of allergic asthma episodes. Prior work has established a proof of concept for assessing projected climate change impacts on future oak pollen exposure and associated health impacts. This paper uses additional monitor data and epidemiologic functions to extend prior analyses, reporting new estimates of the current and projected future health burden of oak, birch, and grass pollen across the contiguous United States. Our results suggest that tree pollen in the spring currently accounts for between 25,000 and 50,000 pollen-related asthma emergency department (ED) visits annually (95% confidence interval: 14,000 to 100,000), roughly two thirds of which occur among people under age 18. Grass pollen in the summer season currently accounts for less than 10,000 cases annually (95% confidence interval: 4,000 to 16,000). Compared to a baseline with 21st century population growth but constant pollen, future temperature and precipitation show an increase in ED visits of 14% in 2090 for a higher greenhouse gas emissions scenario, but only 8% for a moderate emissions scenario, reflecting projected increases in pollen season length. Grass pollen, which is more sensitive to changes in climatic conditions, is a primary contributor to future ED visits, with the largest effects in the Northeast, Midwest, and Southern Great Plains regions. More complete assessment of the current and future health burden of pollen is limited by the availability of data on pollen types (e.g., ragweed), other health effects (e.g., other respiratory disease), and economic consequences (e.g., medication costs).
- A chemical treatment method for obtaining clean and intact pollen shells of different species. [Journal Article]
- ABACS Biomater Sci Eng 2018 Jul 09; 4(7):2319-2329
- Pollen grains and plant spores have emerged as a novel biomaterial for a broad range of applications including oral drug and vaccine delivery, catalyst support, and removal of heavy metals. However, …
Pollen grains and plant spores have emerged as a novel biomaterial for a broad range of applications including oral drug and vaccine delivery, catalyst support, and removal of heavy metals. However, before pollens can be used, their intrinsic biomolecules, which occupy a large part of the pollen inner cavity must be removed not only to create empty space but because they have potential to cause allergies when used in vivo. These intrinsic materials in the pollen core can be extracted through a chemical treatment to generate clean pollen shells. The commonly used method involves a series of sequential treatments with organic solvents, alkalis, and acids to remove the native pollen biomolecules. This method, though successful for treating lycopodium (Lycopodium clavatum) spores, fails for other species of pollens such as common ragweed (Ambrosia elatior) and thus prevents widespread investigation of different pollens. Herein, we report a new chemical treatment for obtaining clean pollen shells from multiple plant species. This new method involves sequential treatment with acetone, phosphoric acid, and potassium hydroxide. Scanning electron micrographs and protein quantification have shown that the new method can successfully produce clean, intact, and hollow shells from many pollen species including ragweed, sunflower, black alder, and lamb's quarters. These results demonstrate the broad applicability of this method to clean pollens of different species, and paves the way to start investigating them for various applications.
- Five-Year Data on Pollen Monitoring, Distribution and Health Impact of Allergenic Plants in Bucharest and the Southeastern Region of Romania. [Journal Article]
- MMedicina (Kaunas) 2019 May 15; 55(5)
- CONCLUSIONS: We consider that the recently implemented Law 62/2018 against Ambrosia may help reduce weed distribution and the atmospheric pollen load, but a more complex and coordinated strategy for controlling urban vegetation and reducing biologic pollution is needed.
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- [The influence of the aeropalinological factors of the aerial environment at the southern coast of the Crimea on the results of the spa and health resort-based treatment of the patients presenting with bronchial asthma]. [Journal Article]
- VKVopr Kurortol Fizioter Lech Fiz Kult 2019; 96(2):18-26
- CONCLUSIONS: Certain results of the spa and health resort-based treatment of the patients presenting with BA under conditions of the Southern Coast of the Crimea depend on the character and composition of the aeropalynologic factors in this region. Specifically, the treatment based at a health resort facility during the dusting period of the pine leads to the achievement of the best clinical and functional status of the patients in comparison with those treated during the cypress, ragweed, and cedar dusting periods, or in the absence of dusting of these plants. The worst immediate effectiveness of SRT was documented in the BA patients who had been treated during the ragweed dusting period.