Training School – Basic Aerobiology

The Training School – 12th European Course on Basic Aerobiology – was held at the University of Reszów in Southern Poland from 20-26 July 2015. There were 22 participants on the course (including 6 who received grants from SMARTER). The Training School was attended by young scientists from a variety of different backgrounds, such as plant biology, ecology, atmospheric physicists and chemistry, who wanted to increase their knowledge of aerobiology. These included people who had no previous contact with the subject area.

Group photo

Teachers and students participating in the Training School for Basic Aerobiology held at the University of Reszów, 20-26 July 2015

The Training school was comprised of a series of lectures, practical exercises, and workshops, with particular focus on the invasive alien Ambrosia. The participants had the possibility to attend lectures presented by leading European experts in aerobiology, agriculture and health. Topics of the lectures included: the morphology of pollen grains and fungal spores, seasonal and short term forecasting, meteorological aspect of pollen dispersal, statistics and quality control in aerobiological study, pollen allergy, and common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia L.) in Europe. The problem of long-distance transport of airborne pollen was discussed in a workshop presented by Dr Carsten Ambelas Skjøth (Vice Chair of the Action) using examples of atmospheric Ambrosia pollen transport.


Practical session in pollen identification held during the Training School

During the practical exercises, the trainees learnt how to identify fungal spores and the pollen grains of the most allergenic plants. Special attention was focused on Ambrosia, Iva and Xanthium pollen grains that are difficult to distinguished. Participants also learnt how to operate the pollen trap and prepare microscope slides. The course was aided by the supporting information included in the “Manual for Aerobiology” book and CD-ROM that was published with financial support from SMARTER especially for this course.

The course ended with theoretical and practical examinations. All participants passed the exams successfully and received certificates.

Coming meetings

The following meetings have been proposed in the FA1203 Work And Budget Plan, Grant Agreement Period 3:

  • 2015/09/28 – WG1 meeting, Nitra (Slovakia)
  • 2016/01/18 – WG2 Seed meeting II, Vienna (tbc) (Austria)
  • 2016/02/01 – Meeting- Developing a cost-benefit model for Ambrosia to assess management success, Leiden (Netherlands)
  • 2016/03/14 – Task Force Population Dynamics III, Nijmegen (Netherlands)
  • 2016/04/18 – Task Force Ophraella IV, Torino (tbc, depending on Ophraella presence) (Italy)
  • 2016/04/25 – Core Group meeting, Fribourg (Switzerland)
  • 2016/09/12-13 – Action final meeting including Core Group, Management Committee, Working Group conferences, Vianden (Luxembourg), before Neobiota 2016
  • 2016/11/15 – Stakeholder dissemination meeting, Brussels (Belgium)

Effect of temperature and nutrients on the growth and development of seedlings of an invasive plant.

Citation: Skalova, H., Moravcova, L., Dixon, A. F., Kindlmann, P. and Pysek, P. (2015) Effect of temperature and nutrients on the growth and development of seedlings of an invasive plant. AoB Plants 7: plv044; doi:10.1093/aobpla/plv044

Open Access Oxford Journals

Abstract: Plant species distributions are determined by the response of populations to regional climates; however, little is known about how alien plants that arrive in central Europe from climatically warmer regions cope with the temperature conditions at the early stage of population development. Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed) is an invasive annual plant causing considerable health and economic problems in Europe. Although climate-based models predict that the whole of the Czech Republic is climatically suitable for this species, it is confined to the warmest regions. To determine the factors possibly responsible for its restricted occurrence, we investigated the effects of temperature and nutrient availability on its seedlings. The plants were cultivated at one of seven temperature regimes ranging from 10 to 34 °C, combined with three nutrient levels. The data on the rate of leaf development were used to calculate the lower developmental threshold (LDT, the temperature, in °C, below which development ceases), the sum of effective temperatures (SET, the amount of heat needed to complete a developmental stage measured in degree days above LDT) and width of the thermal window. The rate of development decreased with decrease in temperature and nutrient supply. Besides this, the decrease in the availability of nutrients resulted in decreased LDT, increased SET and wider thermal window. The dependence of LDT and SET on the availability of nutrients contradicts the concept that thermal constants do not vary. Our results highlight temperature as the main determinant of common ragweed’s distribution and identify nutrient availability as a factor that results in the realized niche being smaller than the fundamental niche; both of these need to be taken into account when predicting the future spread of A. artemisiifolia.

International Ragweed Day – June 27, 2015

The 27th June 2015 marks “International Ragweed Day” to increase understanding and awareness of the problem this invasive weed causes all over the world. Common ragweed, Ambrosia artemisiifolia, is a worldwide invasive weed originating from North America, causing great damage to society via its highly allergenic pollen (typically from August to October in the Northern Hemisphere), and as a hard-­-to-­-control crop weed, with a recently estimated cost of c. 4.5 billion Euro per year for Europe. Climate change and ragweed seed dispersal will further increase airborne concentrations of ragweed pollen by a factor of four until 2050, thereby heightening the incidence and prevalence of ragweed allergy.

The EU-COST Action (FA1203) on Sustainable management of Ambrosia artemisiifolia in Europe (SMARTER) was launched in 2012 with the aim of initiating and coordinating long-term management options to reduce ragweed in Europe. More than 250 scientists from 33 countries collaborate in this project that serves as a model for implementing integrated control measures against invasive alien species across Europe.

The first Saturday of the summer was chosen for the International Ragweed Day because it is early in the growing season of the plant and thereby gives enough time for the preparation of actions.

→ Download the SMARTER press release [PDF 2.5 MB]
→ Download the leaflet of the International Ragweed Society [PDF 721 KB]

WG2/3 Ragweed Taxonomy Meeting in Barcelona

On 17-19 May 2015, the first meeting of the SMARTER Ragweed Taxonomy Group was kindly hosted by the Herbarium of The Botanical Institute of the University of Barcelona in Spain. Five members from 4 countries participated in the meeting.

The first objective was to create a strongly simplified identification key for public use. Three species were chosen that people are more likely to come across (A. artemisiifolia, A. psilostachya, A. trifida)

The second objective was to create a checklist of relevant features for ragweed species that occur in Europe, with special regard to the much discussed species A. maritima.