Deakin AIRwatch
Pollen counting and forecasting facility

Staff

A/Prof Cenk Suphioglu
Associate Professor
Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds
Dr Philip Taylor
Research Fellow
Melbourne Campus at Burwood
Mr Nayyar Ahmed
PhD Student
Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds
Ms Marije Liem-Weits
PhD Student
Melbourne Campus at Burwood

Bioaerosols are major contributors to hay fever and asthma and mainly consist of large reproductive structures: pollen grains and fungal spores. Their atmospheric concentrations (counts) are dependent upon the abundance of seasonal vegetation and the dispersal effects of weather patterns. Pollen is also implicated as a causal agent in large-scale epidemics of thunderstorm-associated asthma. The recent end of Melbourne’s long drought has coincided with numerous thunderstorm events as well as a return to peaks in severe asthma and hay fever outbreaks. Associate Professor Cenk Suphioglu and Dr Philip Taylor are experienced environmental allergists and have regularly collected pollen and spores in a spore trap, microscopically identified them, and used the results for research, and to inform the public of daily allergy risk levels. Currently, the only operational counting station in Victoria is housed at the University of Melbourne and provided to the public by the Asthma Foundation of Victoria (see: http://www.asthma.org.au/Home.aspx). Since there is currently no measure of atmospheric pollen and spore concentrations in regional Victoria (e.g. Geelong) and eastern Melbourne (e.g. Burwood), we have established Deakin AIRwatch, incorporating pollen and spore counting stations at both the Waurn Ponds and Burwood campuses of Deakin University. This is timely due to ever-increasing allergy and asthma epidemics. Deakin AIRwatch network will not only directly benefit the public with pollen and spore counting service to assist in their allergen avoidance programs but also contribute to significant research and clinical studies, which is lacking for the greater Geelong area.

Please Note: Grass pollen counting and forecasting season is from 1 September to 1 February every year. Outside these times, "currently not available" will be displayed.

Pollen count for 21/11/2014

Melbourne Campus at Burwood:
Moderate
Ranking

Low

Moderate

High

Extreme

Grass pollen grains per m3 air

0-19

20-49

50-99

100+

 
Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds:
Moderate

Pollen forecast (for the next 24 hours)

Melbourne Campus at Burwood:
High
Ranking

Low

Moderate

High

Extreme

Grass pollen grains per m3 air

0-19

20-49

50-99

100+

 
Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds:
High

Thunderstorm-associated asthma risk forecast (for the next 24 hours)

Melbourne Campus at Burwood:
High
   
 
Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds:
High

In the case that the pollen count is temporarily unavailable, "Currently not available" will be displayed.

Please Note: On days of High/Extreme pollen count forecasts, it is highly advisable that all those who are allergic to pollen take necessary steps to minimize pollen exposure and carry appropriate medication for hay fever and potential thunderstorm-associated asthma.

Time-lapse videos

Ryegrass flowering

Time lapse movie of a flowering rye grass. Male stamens exert from the inflorescence and their anthers dehisce to reveal highly allergenic pollen grains.



Ryegrass pollen release

Close up, time lapse of anther dehiscence, during which approx 2,000 pollen grains per sac are exposed to the atmosphere. Pollen remains attached to the anther surface in the absence of a wind disturbance. 

 

Ryegrass pollen rupture

Real time rupture of rye grass pollen upon exposure to water. The contents of the pollen are ejected through a ruptured pore on the surface of the pollen grain. Approximately 750 starch granules of micron size are emitted from each pollen grain, along with thousands of nano-particles of cytoplasmic debris, which can trigger a thunderstorm-associated asthma.

Related key publications

  1. Suphioglu, C., Singh, M.B., Taylor, P.E., Bellomo, R., Holmes, P., Puy, R. and Knox, R.B. (1992). Mechanism of grass pollen-induced asthma. The Lancet 339: 569-572.
  2. Bellomo, R., Gigliotti, P., Treloar, A., Holmes, P., Suphioglu, C., Singh, M.B. and Knox, R.B. (1992). Two consecutive thunderstorm associated epidemics of asthma in the city of Melbourne: The possible role of rye-grass pollen. Medical Journal of Australia 156: 834-837.
  3. Knox, R.B. and Suphioglu, C. (1996). Environmental and molecular biology of pollen allergens. Trends in Plant Science 1:156-164.
  4. Schäppi, G., Suphioglu, C., Taylor P.E. and Knox, R.B. (1997). Concentrations of the major birch tree allergen Bet v 1 in pollen and respirable fine particles in the atmosphere. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 100:656-662.
  5. Knox, R.B., Suphioglu, C., Taylor, P., Desai, R., Watson, H.C., Peng, J.L. and Bursill, L.A. (1997). Major grass pollen allergen Lol p 1 binds to diesel exhaust particles (DECP): implications for asthma and air pollution. Clinical and Experimental Allergy 27:246-251.
  6. Suphioglu, C. (1998). Thunderstorm asthma due to grass pollen. International Archives of Allergy and Immunology 116:253-260.
  7. Schäppi, G., Taylor, P.E., Kenrick, J., Staff, I.A. and Suphioglu, C. (1998). Effect of meteorological conditions on the severity of hayfever in Melbourne (Australia). Aerobiologia 14:29-37.
  8. Schäppi, G., Taylor, P.E., Staff, I.A. and Suphioglu, C. (1999). Concentrations of the major grass group 5 allergens in pollen and airborne particles: implications for atmospheric allergen monitoring. Clinical and Experimental Allergy 29:633-641. 
  9. Schäppi, G., Taylor, P.E., Staff, I.A., Rolland, J.M. and Suphioglu, C. (1999). Immunologic significance of respirable atmospheric starch granules loaded with major birch allergen Bet v 1. Allergy 54:478-483.
  10. Suphioglu, C. (2000). What are the important allergens in grass pollen that are linked to human allergic disease? Clinical and Experimental Allergy 30:1335-41.
  11. Taylor, P.E., Jacobson, K.W., House, J.M. and Glovesky, M.M. (2007). Links between pollen, atopy and the asthma epidemic. International Archives of Allergy and Immunology 144:162-170.
  12. Erbas, B., Akram, M., Dharmage, S.C., Tham, R., Dennekamp, M., Newbigin, E., Taylor, P.E., Tang, M.L.K. and Abramson, M.J. (2012). The role of seasonal grass pollen on childhood asthma emergency department presentations. Clinical and Experimental Allergy 42:799-805.

Related links

Thunderstorm Asthma (ABC Catalyst, 14 April 2011)
www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/3191776.htm

The Asthma Foundation of Victoria (incorporating the Melbourne Daily Pollen Count)
www.asthma.org.au/Home.aspx

Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA)
www.allergy.org.au/

Contact

A/Prof Cenk Suphioglu   |   cenk@deakin.edu.au   |    +61 3 5227 2886

 


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