Air Sampling

POLSNIF and Hooikoorts: Nie(t)s is te gek !

As part of the ‘Hay Fever Initiative’ (‘Hooikoorts Initiatief’) led by Generade, the Centre of Expertise Genomics in Leiden, these two projects funded by Generade and NWO-SIA (Taskforce for Applied Research) aim at developing efficient molecular identification tools for bioaerosols by DNA metabarcoding. In cooperation with LUMC/Leiden Genome Technology Center (LGTC), Leidse Instrumentmakers School (LIS), University of Applied Sciences Leiden and other partners, we currently develop a bioinformatics pipeline for analysis of DNA barcodes derived from air samples. We are furthermore developing a handheld pollen sampler (the ‘Pollensniffer’) that will allow personalized pollen monitoring for hay fever patients and flexible on-site analyses of airborne biodiversity.

Life is in the air

Understanding plant dispersal is fundamental to the prediction of biodiversity patterns. Although relatively rare and difficult to observe, Long Distance Dispersal (LDD) events have an important role in the assemblage of plant communities. This project will advance LDD research based on the DNA metabarcoding (Next Generation Sequencing) of air samples, taken from the top of a 325 m observation tower in the middle of a pristine Amazonian forest. The molecular data provided by the metabarcoding, coupled to an extensive DNA reference library of Amazonian species as well as to sequences available in public databases, will allow the taxonomic identification of airborne diaspores. Diversity and composition of these airborne diaspores will be analysed against species relative abundances, species traits and habitat specialization, under the light of biogeographical theory, and allow us to better understand the role of Long Distance Dispersal across the atmosphere on the maintenance of species diversity on the ground. Although these will mainly include Amazonian species, the window for unexpected discoveries is open as the atmosphere might carry diaspores from all over the world. This project is funded by the Kronendak Fund.