Canadian system for outdoor air monitoring


Aerobiology Research was first formed in 1994 to collect outdoor air samples and report on pollen and fungal spore levels. We started with 12 sites across Canada and now have 30 where samples are gathered and our laboratory analysis is done. The database we have collected is also stored in our laboratory in Ottawa for all sites. This data is used to provide information to the public through media and pharmaceutical companies for all of our sites. To check on what sites we have I am including our web site URL- Continue reading

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Fall and Winter Allergies

inky cap mushrooms

Well, the outdoor allergy season is almost over and we will soon be finished doing collections and providing information to the public through our reports that we produce.

The pollen in the air is generally at low levels or even absent on many days now. But people may still be suffering for a while in some areas where the temperatures will be remaining high enough for the fungal spores to continue growing and releasing the spores in the air. Continue reading

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A Symbiont Betrays Its Host

Figure 1. A potato aphid giving birth.

It came as a surprise to me recently to realize how much is known about the immune responses of plants and, moreover, how much there is to know. There is, I found, detailed molecular information about how our botanical cousins defend themselves against the onslaught of infectious agents. Perhaps most surprising is that plants and animals share basic mechanisms of immunity. Here I am referring to innate immunity, being that plants — like the invertebrates — do not have the adaptive immunity of vertebrates. Did these arise before the two realms diverged about one billion years ago? Or, alternatively, are they the result of convergent evolution? Continue reading

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What’s next for the allergy season?

Coprinus pseudoniveus - an inkcap

This cold spring brought a late season for the trees but this does not have any impact on what is going to happen in August and the fall for outdoor pollen and mold spores. There are many weeds that cause seasonal allergies. Some of them include plantain, nettles, ragweed and others. But only weeds that are mostly or partially air pollinated are included in outdoor air samples. The weeds do not include ones that have a strong smell, colourful flowers or do not get airborne (Dandelion). These other weeds can cause allergic reactions but only on contact with the skin. Continue reading

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How Celiac Disease Affects The Digestive System


Celiac disease is a condition that affects the digestive systems of many individuals all over the world, and in this article, the goal is to explain it in a way that anyone can understand what’s really happening. We might even include some intense action (like in the movies).

The digestive system is a beautiful thing. We start breaking down that tasty food in our mouths by chewing it, and enzymes in our saliva even starts to break down the carbohydrates that are present in our food. It then takes the journey down your pharynx to your esophagus and ends up in the stomach. Continue reading

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The pollen season for 2014 – a Pollen Vortex?

Populus (Poplar)

I am going to do a follow up of my last post regarding the pollen season of 2014 and the cold spring that occurred. First I would like to refer to this term that has been used this season called the pollen vortex. A vortex refers to weather, like the wind, and not to pollen. Our research has proven that pollen release is affected by temperature, sunshine, rain etc but the wind is just a vector by which the tree pollen are carried in the atmosphere. Continue reading

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5 Unexpected Activities that Release Endorphin


Endorphin is one of the natural “happy” chemicals released by our bodies. This chemical which is secreted by our brains is responsible for helping us relieves stress, anxiety, and allows us to have higher tolerance for pain. Sometimes called as the natural morphine, endorphin affects our pain and pleasure perception.

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Where is spring and the pollen allergy season?

Birch trees

We hear it all the time. When will winter be over? Well not only are people saying it but so are the trees.

This winter the March weather has been very cold with lots of snow. April has begun with very cold temperatures as well and the temperatures are warming up very slowly. The sampler at our site in Ottawa on April 6th is still surrounded by snow. The winter snow cover is good for the trees since it provides protection for them during the cold winter months. What they don’t like is a stretch of warm weather in the spring followed by a cold snap for several days or even weeks. This can fool the trees into budding and it can have a profound effect on the pollen season to the point of almost eliminating it if the trees have started budding. We don’t have that problem this year so far. Continue reading

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Passionate about Thresher Sharks in the Philippines

Photo credit: Steve De Neef

My work as a marine biologist has drawn me to the Coral Triangle, an area of our oceans consisting of the highest levels of marine biodiversity. You can imagine that the abundance of marine life led to a high reliance of local populations on seafood. It is a cruel irony that some of the methods used to harvest this seafood destroy the very foundations of seafood supply. So when I decided to hop on the Conservation bandwagon, the Coral Triangle was an obvious choice. Continue reading

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Can dogs really recognize human emotional expressions?

dog emotional

Have you experience crying and then your pet dog suddenly comes to you try to pacify you with a lick on your face? Many pet dog owners believe that their dogs have the ability to detect certain human emotional expressions, for instance, sadness. Continue reading

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