AUG 27, 2019 9:16 AM PDT

Do Japanese Trees Synchronize Pollen Release?

WRITTEN BY: Tiffany Dazet

If you experience itchy eyes, a runny nose, and more sneezing or coughing than normal, you’re probably familiar with allergic rhinitis. When allergic rhinitis is triggered by pollen, it is referred to as “hayfever” or “pollinosis.” Allergenic pollens differ regionally and many people around the world are impacted by pollinosis.

Researchers from Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology (TUAT) state that 17% of the Japanese population, about 20 million people, suffer from seasonal hayfever during the spring and summer. The main allergen comes from Japanese cedar pollen; also called “sugi,” this is the largest tree species in Japan. The second-largest tree species, and second in allergenic pollen production, is the Japanese cypress (hinoki). These two species cover a combined 7 million hectares. They release pollen from February to May, which can cause symptoms from itchy eyes to severe respiratory disorders.

Predicting pollen abundance and spatial distribution can aid pollinosis sufferers and doctors treating the condition. The TUAT research team studied annual patterns of airborne allergic pollen throughout the country. Most available information about pollen distribution was held to the local level. The results of this study, the first of its kind, were published earlier this month in Scientific Reports.

The team used public data from the Japanese Ministry of the Environment’s “Hanako-san” pollen observation system. Prior research has shown allergenic pollen distribution has an alternating “on/off” cycle, but it differs regionally. The team aimed to investigate annual fluctuations and spatial synchronization in pollen distribution at the national level using data from 120 locations over five years.

Their results showed than synchronization was strong in eastern Japan and weak in western Japan. They also discovered that at the national level, synchronization was intermittent. In 2009-2010, all 120 sites were synchronized over 1600 kilometers. In 2015-2016, they were nearly perfectly desynchronized. In a news article from TUAT regarding the study, lead author Akira Ishibashi stated, "We still don't know what causes these regional differences in the pollen dispersal behavior. It could be related to correlations in environmental variabilities at the locations of the different tree populations, known as the Moran effect."

The researchers are hopeful that the information gained from this study will help individuals who suffer from pollinosis, as well as clinicians, prevent severe cases of the seasonal illness. These results may be used to create earlier predictions of national pollen distribution and abundance.

Sources: Nature, Science Daily
 

About the Author
  • Tiffany grew up in Southern California, where she attended San Diego State University. She graduated with a degree in Biology with a marine emphasis, thanks to her love of the ocean and wildlife. With 13 years of science writing under her belt, she now works as a freelance writer in the Pacific Northwest.
You May Also Like
MAR 09, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
AI Creates Space for Equality in Pain Management
MAR 09, 2021
AI Creates Space for Equality in Pain Management
Pain is experienced more intensely among certain groups of people. Indeed, studies have shown that individuals from mino ...
MAR 21, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Deciphering How Some Environmental Influences Affect Development
MAR 21, 2021
Deciphering How Some Environmental Influences Affect Development
We know that there are certain substances that can harm a developing fetus, like alcohol or lead. Some health conditions ...
MAR 22, 2021
Microbiology
A Cavity-Forming Germ Gets a Little Help From a Gene Cluster
MAR 22, 2021
A Cavity-Forming Germ Gets a Little Help From a Gene Cluster
There are many microbes that live in the human mouth, and while some are harmless, others like Streptococcus mutans are ...
MAR 24, 2021
Cancer
What toxic chemicals are lurking in your couch?
MAR 24, 2021
What toxic chemicals are lurking in your couch?
New research published in the journal Environment International suggests a weekend trip to the nearest furniture st ...
APR 04, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Human Malaria Trial Creates More Questions
APR 04, 2021
Human Malaria Trial Creates More Questions
Malaria is a major health problem in many parts of the world; nearly half a million people die from malaria, and another ...
APR 05, 2021
Neuroscience
Could a Keto Diet Treat Alzheimer's Disease?
APR 05, 2021
Could a Keto Diet Treat Alzheimer's Disease?
  Researchers from Brigham Young University have found evidence that eating a ketogenic diet- which is a diet that ...
Loading Comments...