Keep on pollen sniffing

May 5, 2020
WDG

By Cas Verbeek (University of Amsterdam)

Luckily, in spite of these trying times, we are allowed to continue our research in Amsterdam and on the Veluwe to determine the effects of air pollution on airborne pollen grains. Unfortunately for us (but generally perhaps one of the few silver linings of this situation), the COVID-19 lockdown has largely eliminated our main variable of interest; air pollution.

With traffic in the city at a minimum, any chemical differences might not be as pronounced between the city and rural areas. However, this may actually provide us with a unique opportunity to get a baseline of the pollen chemistry in Amsterdam with relatively little pollution. This baseline may also be of interest to projects working on urban air quality and greenifying urban spaces, such as the projects in the Amsterdam Knowledge Mile Park, which is included amongst our sampling locations.

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For more about our project on pollen and pollution in the Netherlands see other posts:

Plant Ecology & Diversity: Subject Editors

April 24, 2020
WDG

As part of the ongoing reconfiguration of the journal Plant Ecology & Diversity the Editorial Board has now be organised into five themes, each covering different aspects of the journals scope, to streamline the process. Each theme has a Subject Editor who feeds articles to the team of Associate Editors. The themes and Subject Editors are:

  • Biogeography (F. Xavier Picó – Estación Biológica de Doñana (EBD-CSIC), Spain)
  • Bioitic Interactions (Luis Daniel Llambi – University of the Andes, Venezuela)
  • Environment & Plant Functioning (John Grace, University of Edinburgh, UK)
  • Evolution & Systematics (Richard Abbott, University of St Andrews, UK)
  • Global Change & Vegetation Dynamics (William Gosling, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands)

If your research is relevant to an international audience and fits into one of these themes please consider submitting your research for our consideration. To find out more about how to submit, the Aims & Scope and Editorial Board please visit the journal web site, by clicking here.

Pollen in the Netherlands

April 21, 2020
WDG

By Letty de Weger (Leiden University Medical Centrum)

In the coming weeks lots of pollen can be collected. Due to the nice, sunny weather birch trees are in full flower and release their pollen into the air.  This is of course not so good news for the individuals sensitized to the pollen of birch because they can suffer from hay fever symptoms.

Next to birch also the ash trees are flowering. The black buds of the ash branches have bursted, releasing the purple anthers (first figure). Among those anthers you can see some that release their yellow pollen  (second figure).

For more about our project on pollen and pollution in the Netherlands see other posts:

Palaeoecology of Africa

April 20, 2020
WDG

I am delighted to announce that a new volume of the classic book series Palaeoecology of Africa is now under development. This new volume (hopefully number 35) will focus on “Quaternary Vegetation Dynamics” and build on recent initiatives to develop the “African Pollen Database”. The volume will be guest edited by Anne-Marie Lezine (LOCEAN), Louis Scott (University of the Free State) and myself, along side the series editor Jürgen Runge (Johann Wolfgang Goethe University). If you are interested to contribute please get in touch.

Scope

The Quaternary Vegetation Dynamics volume of the long-running Palaeoecology of Africa series  will showcase palynological work from across the African continent and surrounding regions, and place this in the context of past climatic, human and evolutionary change. We are keen to use this opportunity to catalyse the archiving of previously published and new datasets into the open access online African Pollen Database. The volume will be published entirely open access online and will contain four types of manuscript: (i) Research papers, (ii) Data papers, (iii) Review papers, and (iv) Perspectives.

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Introducing Cas Verbeek

March 4, 2020
WDG

Cas Verbeek

Cas Verbeek

Hey everyone!

For those who I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting yet; I am Cas Verbeek, a second years Ecology and Evolution MSc student at the University of Amsterdam. For the coming months I am excited to be working with William and Letty to investigate the difference in allergenicity between pollen from urban and rural environments.

This project fits nicely with my BSc thesis where I investigated the taxonomy and phylogeny of pollen chemistry. Hopefully I can apply the experience I have gained there to help make this a successful project! Besides, the data we will be collecting could build on the data I collected during my BSc thesis and help to further unravel the taxonomic and phylogenetic information contained in the chemistry of pollen. I am looking forward to the work that I will be doing with William and Letty, and to share and discuss our progress here with all of you!

-Cas

Urban vs. rural pollen in the Netherlands

February 26, 2020
WDG

Urban vs. rural pollen chemistry project design

Figure 1: (a) Illustrative images of sample locations in Amsterdam and the Hoge Veluwe. (b) The newly developed ‘pollen sniffer’ collects airborne pollen from the environment. (c) The FTIR can chemically characterise individual pollen grains.

Does environmental pollution enhance the allergenic nature of pollen? This is the question that drives my NWO Idea Generator grant that has just started. This project links up the pollen chemistry expertise in my group within the Department of Ecosystem & Landscape Dynamics (University of Amsterdam) and the work of Letty de Weger into human health and pollen (Leiden University Medical Centrum). Over the 2020 flowering season we will be monitoring pollen in Amsterdam (urban) and in the Hoge Veluwe (rural) in the space in which people have allergic reactions to see if there is any chemical difference between the pollen in urban and rural settings.

We are delighted that Cas Verbeek has joined the team as a Research Assistant; taking time out from his MSc Biological Sciences degree (University of Amsterdam). Cas is already busy in the field and lab fine tuning our collection and analysis protocols.

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