Decrypting seasonal patterns of key pollen taxa in cool temperate Australia: A multi-barcode metabarcoding analysis

Lachlan J. Tegart, Gabriele Schiro, Joanne L. Dickinson, Brett J. Green, Albert Barberán, James R. Marthick, Andrew Bissett, Fay H. Johnston, Penelope J. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Pollen allergies pose a considerable global public health concern. Allergy risk can vary significantly within plant families, yet some key pollen allergens can only be identified to family level by current optical methods. Pollen information with greater taxonomic resolution is therefore required to best support allergy prevention and self-management. We used environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding to deepen taxonomic insights into the seasonal composition of airborne pollen in cool temperate Australia, a region with high rates of allergic respiratory disease. In Hobart, Tasmania, we collected routine weekly air samples from December 2018 until October 2020 and sequenced the internal transcribed spacer 2 (ITS2) and chloroplastic tRNA-Leucine tRNA-Phenylalanine intergenic spacer (trnL-trnF) regions in order to address the following questions: a) What is the genus-level diversity of known and potential aeroallergens in Hobart, in particular, in the families Poaceae, Cupressaceae and Myrtaceae? b) How do the atmospheric concentrations of these taxa change over time, and c) Does trnL-trnF enhance resolution of biodiversity when used in addition to ITS2? Our results suggest that individuals in the region are exposed to temperate grasses including Poa and Bromus in the peak grass pollen season, however low levels of exposure to the subtropical grass Cynodon may occur in autumn and winter. Within Cupressaceae, both metabarcodes showed that exposure is predominantly to pollen from the introduced genera Cupressus and Juniperus. Only ITS2 detected the native genus, Callitris. Both metabarcodes detected Eucalyptus as the major Myrtaceae genus, with trnL-trnF exhibiting primer bias for this family. These findings help refine our understanding of allergy triggers in Tasmania and highlight the utility of multiple metabarcodes in aerobiome studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number117808
JournalEnvironmental Research
Volume243
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 15 2024

Keywords

  • Aerobiome
  • Allergy
  • Metabarcoding
  • Pollen
  • Pollen monitoring
  • eDNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • General Environmental Science

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