An integrative environmental pollen diversity assessment and its importance for the Sustainable Development Goals

Thomas Hornick, Anett Richter, William Stanley Harpole, Maximilian Bastl, Stephanie Bohlmann, Aletta Bonn, Jan Bumberger, Peter Dietrich, Birgit Gemeinholzer, Rüdiger Grote, Bernd Heinold, Alexander Keller, Marie L. Luttkus, Patrick Mäder, Elena Motivans Švara, Sarah Passonneau, Surangi W. Punyasena, Demetra Rakosy, Ronny Richter, Wiebke SickelIngolf Steffan-Dewenter, Panagiotis Theodorou, Regina Treudler, Barbora Werchan, Matthias Werchan, Ralf Wolke, Susanne Dunker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pollen relates to many aspects of human and environmental health, which protection and improvement are endorsed by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. By highlighting these connections in the frame of current challenges in monitoring and research, we discuss the need of more integrative and multidisciplinary pollen research related to societal needs, improving health of humans and our ecosystems for a sustainable future. Summary: Pollen is at once intimately part of the reproductive cycle of seed plants and simultaneously highly relevant for the environment (pollinators, vector for nutrients, or organisms), people (food safety and health), and climate (cloud condensation nuclei and climate reconstruction). We provide an interdisciplinary perspective on the many and connected roles of pollen to foster a better integration of the currently disparate fields of pollen research, which would benefit from the sharing of general knowledge, technical advancements, or data processing solutions. We propose a more interdisciplinary and holistic research approach that encompasses total environmental pollen diversity (ePD) (wind and animal and occasionally water distributed pollen) at multiple levels of diversity (genotypic, phenotypic, physiological, chemical, and functional) across space and time. This interdisciplinary approach holds the potential to contribute to pressing human issues, including addressing United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, fostering social and political awareness of these tiny yet important and fascinating particles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)110-121
Number of pages12
JournalPlants People Planet
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • aerobiology
  • allergy
  • diversity
  • environmental monitoring
  • food safety
  • paleoecology
  • palynology
  • pollination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Plant Science
  • Forestry
  • Horticulture


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