Spring is officially here and has been for quite a while. Buffalonians who suffer from allergic rhinitis know that even the pollen report can’t always fully prepare them for the day ahead. Unfortunately, forecasts just aren’t that accurate. Thankfully, a new team of allergy specialists from Bangor University is leading what Professor Simon Creer calls the PollerGen project to track different strains of grass and better educate the public.
What Have Allergy Specialists Done Until Now?
Up until now, allergy specialists have tested for the general pollen count. This report will tell you how many grains of pollen are in the air, but it won’t tell you about the different strains of pollen present. Those who suffer from hay fever can’t rely on these numbers to plan their day. Sometimes a high pollen count means that they’ll need to keep a pack of tissues and bottle of Claritin on-hand at all times, and at other times high numbers are misleading.
What Are the Allergy Specialists at PollerGen Doing?
Accompanied by scientists from the U.K. to Australia, Professor Simon Creer, a professor of molecular ecology at Bangor University, developed a technique called metabarcoding to analyze what he refers to as “environmental DNA.” By testing fragments of genetic material they find in the soil, water, and air, these scientists have been able to identify and classify various strains of grass.
“Bringing a range of specialists together has enabled us to find initial answers,” says Dr Georgina Brennan, from Bangor, analyzes data with Dr Catrin Potter, a researcherfrom Aberystwyth.
“Our task is now to develop a clearer picture of where the pollen comes from, how it moves through the air and how different types of pollen can be linked to allergies.”
Hopefully, by matching grass strains to the pollen they produce, these allergy specialists will be able to modify pollen forecasts and help people from all over the world to better cope with allergic rhinitis.