University of Worcester Leads New International Aerobiology Research Network


Scientists at Worcester are at the forefront in aerobiology, which is the study of biological particles in the air. The new network aims to improve detection of airborne pollen, spores, bacteria and other bioaerosols across Europe and its work is expected to have substantial and positive impacts on areas relevant to human health, food security and climate change in the future. 

Professor Carsten Skjøth, at the University of Worcester, will head up the network.

“Recently there has been a lot of technological development, which can revolutionise the exploration of the atmosphere in relation to airborne pollen, spores and bacteria,” he said. 

“At Worcester, we’re among the leaders in Europe in this area and by working together we can learn more and come up with an approach that utilises these technological developments to better understand what’s going on in the air and its impacts.”  

The network is funded by COST, the European Cooperation in Science and Technology, which is part of Horizons 2020, the largest EU research and innovation programme.  COST funds 300 networks through Europe which work on various topics in science and technology.  This new network was one of 40 projects to be chosen in the latest round of funding and involves more than 90 scientists from 35 different countries in Europe and beyond. COST has committed more than 700,000 Euros (£589,000) for the network, from 2019-2023, titled New approaches in detection of pathogens and aeroallergens (ADOPT).

Professor Skjøth said: “Comparing data across time or across geographical areas is vital for understanding impact and further developing new detection approaches.  For example, when thinking about food security we want to know when and how new diseases are established, if they are moving in the air and how this should be detected.  

“It’s the first time a community is getting together to put all these new tools and resources in action in order to come up with a comprehensive picture and vision for how pollen, spores and bacteria should be detected in the future.” 

The launch of the new network coincides with the University of Worcester hosting the 2022 International Aerobiology Symposium, a conference which involves 400 scientists throughout the world. 

“Leading a major network and the conference is certainly putting Worcester on the map in this field,” added Professor Skjøth.