Riders on the Storm:
There is increasing evidence that the bacterial composition on pollen grains is not a contamination with random species, in contrast a defined microbiota community colonizes the pollen. We have analyzed birch pollen associated bacteria and found Bacillaceae as the dominant family of culturable bacteria in the pollen microbiota. Individual bacterial strains have the potential to disintegrate the epithelial barrier and foster allergen passage over the epithelium. Pollen allergy is highly prevalent worldwide, however, the mechanisms of allergic sensitization are still not fully understood.

Pollen-borne bacteria, Epithelial Integrity, and Allergic Sensitization
Several factors are associated with rising frequencies of allergic conditions. A significant association with reduction in microbial exposure and with increased environmental pollution redefines allergy also as a modern lifestyle disease. The mechanisms of allergic sensitization include pollen intrinsic immune-modulatory substances, protease activity, but also microbial compounds associated with pollen are thought to play a role. Therefore we are interested in the pollen borne microbiota on allergy relevant anemophilous tree and grass pollen. We are testing individual isolated strains in the context of epithelial integrity in primary epithelial lung cells and test the allergy adjuvant capacity of select strains in murine sensitization models.
Important publications:

  • McKenna et al., 2017, Int J Mol Sci
  • Abfalter et al., 2016, Plos One
  • Abfalter et al., 2015, Br Microbiol Res J