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Environmental DNA reveals links between abundance and composition of airborne grass pollen and respiratory health

Rowney, F.M., Brennan, G.L., Skjøth, C. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5992-9568, Griffith, G.W., Clewlow, Y., Adams-Groom, Beverley ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1097-8876, Barber, A., De Vere, N., Economou, T., Hegarty, M., Hanlon, H.M., Jones, L., Kurganskiy, Alexander ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6588-9387, Petch, Geoffrey, Potter, C., Rafiq, A.M., Warner, A., The PollerGen, Consortium, Wheeler, B., Osborne, NJ. and Creer, S. (2021) Environmental DNA reveals links between abundance and composition of airborne grass pollen and respiratory health. Current Biology. ISSN Print: 0960-9822 Online: 1879-0445 (In Press)

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Abstract

Grass (Poaceae) pollen is the most important outdoor aeroallergen, exacerbating a range of respiratory conditions, including allergic asthma and rhinitis (‘hay fever’). Understanding the relationships between respiratory diseases and airborne grass pollen with view to improving forecasting has broad public health and socioeconomic relevance. It is estimated that there are over 400 million people with allergic rhinitis and over 300 million with asthma, globally, often comorbidly. In the UK, allergic asthma has an annual cost of around US$ 2.8 billion (2017). The relative contributions of the >11,000 (worldwide) grass species to respiratory health have been unresolved, as grass pollen cannot be readily discriminated using standard microscopy. Instead, here we used novel environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling and quantitative PCR (qPCR), to measure the relative abundances of airborne pollen from 47 common grass species, during two grass pollen seasons (2016 and 2017), across the UK. We quantitatively demonstrate discrete spatiotemporal patterns in airborne grass pollen assemblages. Using a series of generalised
additive models (GAMs), we explore the relationship between the incidences of airborne pollen and severe asthma exacerbations (sub-weekly) and prescribing rates of drugs for respiratory allergies (monthly). Our results indicate that a subset of grass species may have disproportionate influence on these population-scale respiratory health responses during peak grass pollen concentrations. The work demonstrates the need for sensitive and detailed biomonitoring of harmful aeroallergens in order to investigate and mitigate their impacts on human health.

Item Type: Article
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Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: airborne grass pollen, respiratory diseases
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
Divisions: College of Health, Life and Environmental Sciences > School of Science and the Environment
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Depositing User: Beverley Adams-Groom
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2021 09:57
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2021 09:57
URI: https://eprints.worc.ac.uk/id/eprint/10193

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