The Pollen and Aerobiology Research Group (PARG) aims to promote multidisciplinary research on all aspects involving bioaerosols, from their source to their impact

Group Lead: Professor Carsten Ambelas Skjøth

About the group

The mission is to understand the formation, release, transport, transformation and removal of bioaerosols in the atmosphere and how this affects the general environment.

The application of the research is mainly within three areas of distinction: 1) human health & exposure coving topics such as pollen forecasting and palynology in relation to crime scenes and honey characterization; 2) plant health & food security covering topics such as crop diseases and invasive species, 3) Atmospheric processes topics and detection of bioaerosols covering topics such as eDNA and real-time detection using lasers. The method to carry out research are a combination of detection and mathematical modelling, often involving field work, laboratory work and use of computer clusters within a BIG data environment.


Current Research

Current Research

Project titlePhenology of grass flowering at the species level (3 year PhD studentship supported by European Commission through a Marie Curie Career Integration Grant, University of Worcester and National Environmental Research Council).

Details: Our PhD student Carl Frisk has been working on observing grass pollen phenology, grass pollen concentrations and developing novel mechanistic modelling approaches based on Markov Chain Modelling and the HYSPLIT model. He will finish in Spring 2021.

Project titleDetecting spatial and vertical concentrations of fungal spores in the atmosphere using bioinformatics and drone technology (3 year PhD studentship supported by European Commission through a Marie Curie Career Integration Grant and University of Worcester).

Details: Our PhD student Godfrey Apangu has been working on Alternaria using both eDNA approaches as well as traditional aerobiological approaches using optical microscopy. He has combined this with vegetation studies and atmospheric modelling using HYSPLIT. He will finish in summer 2021.

Project titlePollerGEN: Linking grass pollen biodiversity and human health: an environmental genomics approach. Funded by National Environmental Research Council with £1.2m to Bangor University, Aberystwyth University, University of Exeter, University of Worcester, University of Sydney and the UK Met Office...

Details: We aim to revolutionise the way that pollen is measured, model spatial and temporal deposition from different species of grass pollen and identify linkages to human health.

Project titleADOPT: COST Action CA18226 - New approaches in detection of pathogens and aeroallergens. Supported by the European Commission with up to 700kEuro during the period 2019-23

Details: This COST action will establish an interdisciplinary network of experts currently involved in the detection of bioaerosols using both existing methods as well as upcoming technologies such as real or near real-time technologies from atmospheric chemistry and physics or eDNA methods used in molecular biology.

Project title: AUTOPOLLEN: An EUMETNET programme supported by the participating parties and the EUMETNET programme

Details: The AutoPollen brings together a consortium from across Europe with the multidisciplinary expertise needed to address the challenges along the entire information chain – from the actual observation through to the final end-user defined product by using automatic and real-time detection of pollen.

Previous research

Project title: SUPREME

Details: Funder: A Marie Curie Career Integration Grant funded by European Commission: 2014-18 carrying out research on fungal spores, developing a research group and identifying new detection and modelling approaches in aerobiology 

 Project title: iPOLLEN

Details: Funder: A Marie Curie Fellowship funded by European Commission: 2016-19 aimed at detecting oak pollen using combining gtradidial and eDNA approaches and implement this in novel atmospheric models

 Project title: New approaches for the early detection of tree health pests and pathogens

Details: A Research Council project Funder BBSRC: 2014-18 aimed at developing new approaches on detection harmful fungal spores in the air using eDNA approaches. 

Key Publications

The group typically produces 10-20 scientific articles each year. A full publication list can be found along each PARG member, while the most important ones are here below:

  1. Schaffner, U., Steinbach, S., Sun, Y., Skjøth, C. , de Weger, L., Lommen, S., Augustinus, B., Bonini, M., Karrer, G, Sikoparija, B., Thibaudon, M. and Müller-Schärer, H. (2020) Biological weed control to relieve millions from ambrosia allergies in Europe. Nature Communications, 11. Article no. 1745. ISSN 2041-1723
  2. Adams-Groom B, Skjoth C, Selby K, Pashley C, Satchwell J, Head K, Ramsay G. 2020. Regional calendars and seasonal statistics for the United Kingdom’s main pollen allergens. Allergy, 75 (6): 1492-1494.
  3. Ottosen, Thor-Bjørn, Petch, Geoffrey, Hanson, Mary and Skjøth, C.   (2020) Tree Cover Mapping Based on Sentinel-2 Images Demonstrate High Thematic Accuracy in Europe. International Journal of Applied Earth Observations and Geoinformation, 84. p. 101947. ISSN 0303-2434
  4. Kurganskiy, A , Skjøth, C. , Baklanov, A., Sofiev, M., Saarto, A., Severova, E., Smyshlyaev, S. and Kaas, E. (2020) Incorporation of pollen data in source maps is vital for pollen dispersion models. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 20. pp. 2099-2121. ISSN Print: 1680-7316 Online: 1680-7324
  5. Skjøth, C. , Sun, Y., Karrer, G., Sikoparija, B., Smith, Matt , Schaffner, U. and Müller-Schärer, H. (2019) Predicting Abundances of Invasive Ragweed Across Europe Using a “Top-down” Approach. Science of the Total Environment, 686. pp. 212-222. ISSN Print: 0048-9697 Online: 1879-1026
  6. Hurley, Kirsty, Wharton, Laura, Wheeler, Mike, Skjøth, C.  , Niles, Christian and Hanson, Mary (2019) Car Cabin Filters as Sampling Devices to Study Bioaerosols Using eDNA and Microbiological Methods. Aerobiologia, 35 (2). pp. 215-225. ISSN 0393-5965
  7. Brennan GL, Potter C, de Vere N, Griffith GW, Skjoth CA, Osborne NJ, Wheeler BW, McInnes RN, Clewlow Y, Barber A, Hanlon HM, Hegarty M, Jones L, Kurganskiy A, Rowney FM, Armitage C, Adams-Groom B, Ford Col R, Petch GM, The PollerGEN Consortium & Creer S. 2019. Temperate airborne grass pollen defined by spatio-temporal shifts in community composition. Nature Ecology and Evolution. 3 (5): 750-754 doi: 10.1038/s41559-019-0849-7. Epub 2019 Apr 8.
  8. Apangu, G., Frisk, Carl A, Adams-Groom, B., Satchwell, J., Pashley, C. H and Skjøth, C.  (2020) Air mass trajectories and land cover map reveal cereals and oilseed rape as major local sources of Alternaria spores in the Midlands, UK. Atmospheric Pollution Research 11 (9) 1668-1679.
  9. Rojo, J., Oteros, J., Pérez-Badia, R., Cervigón, P., Ferencova, Z., Gutiérrez-Bustillo, A.M., Bergmann, K-C., Oliver, G., Thibaudon, M., Albertini, R., Rodriguez-De la Cruz, D., Sánchez-Reyes, E., Sánchez-Sánchez, J., Pessi, A.M., Reiniharju, J., Saarto, A., Galderón, M.C., Guerrero, C., Berra, D., Bonini, M., Chiodini, E., Fernández-González, D., Garcia, J., Trigo, M.M., Myszkowska, D., Fernández-Rodríguez, S., Tormo-Molina, R., Damialis, A., Haering, F., Traidl-Hoffmann, C., Severova, E., Caeiro, E., Ribeiro, H., Magyar, D., Makra, L., Udvardy, O., Alcázar, P., Galán, C., Borycka, K., Kasprzyk, I., Newbigin, E., Adams-Groom, Beverley , Apangu, Godfrey, Frisk, Carl A. Skjøth, C., Radišić, P., Šikoparija, B, Celenk, S., Schmidt-Weber, C. and Buters, J. (2019) Near-ground Effect of Height on Pollen Exposure. Environmental Research, 174. pp. 160-169.
  10. Faggian, R., Hanson, Mary, Kennedy, R., Petch, Geoffrey and Wakeham, A. (2017) Assessment of the response of Plasmodiophora brassicae in contaminated horticultural land, using lime‐based fertilizer concentrations. Food and Energy Security, 6 (4). e00122. ISSN 2048-3694
  11. Ottosen, Thor-Bjørn, Petch, Geoffrey, Hanson, Mary and Skjøth, C.   (2017) Towards a Map of the European Tree Cover based on Sentinel-2. Proceedings of the 2017 conference on Big Data from Space. BIDS' 2017. pp. 402-405. ISSN 1831-9424
  12. Hawkins J, d Vere N, Griffith A, Ford R, Allainguillaume J, Hegarty M, Baillie L, Adams-Groom B. 2015. Using DNA metabarcoding to identify the floral composition of honey: A new tool for investigating honey bee foraging preferences. PLOS One, DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0134735.

Current Opportunities

Fully-funded PhD studentships with PARG will be advertised here, but also on

Approaches from self-supporting PhD students interested in the area of PARG are accepted all year round, typically with a starting time 01 October or 01 February. Please contact Professor Carsten Ambelas Skjøth for an informal discussion. PhD proposal can cover areas such as immunology and airborne allergens, atmospheric modelling of pollen or spores, eDNA and classification of pollen & spores, human exposure assessments, ecological aspects relation to bioaerosols and much more

Travelling grants

Scientists and PhD students associated with the COST Action ADOPT are eligible to apply for so-called Short Term Scientific Missions, where the award is up to 3500Euro. This funding can be used to visit the team or used by team members, in particular PhD students and post docs, to visit other outer laboratories in other countries.

Secondments and other long term stays

The team is regularly having international visitors over longer periods, often funded by international or national research grants or UK based funding bodies such as the Newton foundation, The Royal Society or the Welcome Trust.


The team has one of the most advanced monitoring stations in Europe in relation to collection of bioaerosols as a large selection of equipment that may be used for field studies on bioaerosols. It runs advanced laboratories designed for studies on bioaerosols and operates a powerful computer cluster designed for modelling with large data in statistics, bioinformatics, remote sensing and the atmospheric models HYSPLIT and WRF-Chem. 

PARG Members

Academic Staff Members

Research Student Members

  • Carl Frisk (PhD Student in grass pollen flowering) - full publication list here
  • Godfrey Apangu (PhD Student in aerobiology and the fungal spore Alternaria) - full publication list here

Previous PARG members and long term visitors/secondments

  • Dr. Thor-Bjorn Ottosen
  • Dr. Alexander Kurganskiy
  • Dr. Maria Grundstrom
  • Dr. Pilvi Siljamo
  • Dr. Malgorzata Werner
  • ·        Gary Keene

External Collaborators