Genetic and environmental factors affecting the allergenicity of birch (Betula pubescens ssp. czerepanovii [Orl.] Hämet-Ahti) pollen

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Environmental variation, such as an increase of mean temperature due to the greenhouse effect, as well as the genetic factors may affect the allergenicity of pollen and thus, the prevalence of allergies. The connection between these factors and the allergen content of pollen is poorly understood.


To evaluate the role of environmental and genetic factors on the allergenicity of birch pollen.


Mountain birch (Betula pubescens ssp. czerepanovii (Orl.) Hämet-Ahti) pollen was studied using SDS-PAGE and IgE-immunoblotting. Pollen samples were collected from the trees of 10 half-sib families. The study trees from each family were reared in two tree line gardens where the daily mean temperatures were different during the growing season.


The quantitative analysis of band intensities suggested that the responses of the major birch pollen allergen, Bet v 1, were stronger in the samples collected from the garden with higher daily mean temperature. Half-sib families and individual trees differed in their Bet v 1 content.


Our results show that both genetic and environmental factors have an effect on the amount of Bet v 1. This suggests that breeding for trees low in allergen content may be possible.

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