The National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit (NPARU) is a specialist centre that is operated by the School of Science and the Environment, University of Worcester.

Services

Pollen Forecast – find out which pollen and fungal spore types are airborne this week. Read all about pollen and fungal spore allergens, visit our hay fever FAQs and make use of our pollen calendars.

We also produce detailed pollen forecasts for the media, weather providers, apps, pharmaceutical companies etc. In association with the UK’s Met Office, who run the UK’s pollen monitoring network and provide a daily pollen forecast on their weather pages.

Analysis of honey in pollen – for quality assurance, the pollen content of honey is checked for floristic content and country of origin. We require a small sample of 30g for testing and have a turnaround time of up to seven working days or a fast track of 2 working days.

Please contact Dr Beverley Adams-Groom via email for further details on any of the above.

Current Research

Research is currently focussed on the detection of pollen and spores using molecular techniques under the PollerGen collaboration supported by NERC. This work has already demonstrated when different grass pollen types are airborne and the contribution each type is making to the grass pollen season. There are many different grass pollen species in the UK, all with extremely similar pollen grains that are very difficult to distinguish using the standard detection technique of microscopy, so this work is really enhancing our understanding of grass pollen allergy. Find out more: Brennan et al (2019) and Rowney et al (2020).

We are also using DNA analysis to learn more about different Alternaria fungal spore species in the air and different oak pollen species too. The results are on the way. Other work on modelling Alternaria spore dispersal has shown that the amount of local cereal and oilseed rape crops, which provide host to these fungi, has a significant impact on the local spore concentrations. Read: Apangu et al (2020).

We recently researched and produced a set of regional pollen calendars for the main pollen allergens, to complement the general UK calendar already available.

Research funding has been provided by UK Research Councils (BBSRC & NERC), the University itself and European Union funding, such as Marie Curie and COST action grants.

Our Background

NPARU has been producing pollen forecasts at the University of Worcester since 1995 and has, and continues to be, a leader in the UK for the discipline. Over the years we have studied pollen and fungal spore dispersal, fungal crop pathogen detection, plant responses to pathogens, hay fever treatment efficacy, pollen levels in soil, pollen in a forensic context, allergenic plant flowering phenology and new techniques in the detection of bioaerosols.

Work within NPARU underpinned two Impact Case Studies used in the University’s Research Excellence Framework 2014 submission in Biological Sciences.  These REF2014 case studies have contributed to improving the quality of life for hay fever sufferers and improving crop protection against plant diseases. Staff will also be contributing to the REF2021. We have translated our high-level research into practice, through advising governmental boards and of course the daily pollen forecasts. 

Staff contribute to the University of Worcester’s undergraduate and masters taught courses as well as directing the studies of doctorate students. Our undergraduate and postgraduate opportunities enable our students and researchers to explore real world biological problems in society. We use modern technology to carry out world-leading research and deliver quality teaching on our degree courses