Keynote Speakers

University of Cordoba, Spain

Carmen Galán

TOPIC: World History of Aerobiology

Carmen Galán is Professor of Botany in the University of Cordoba, Spain. She is member of the Expert Group in the Observatory of Health and Climate Change, Ministry of Health, Spain; expert member on Air Quality in the Spanish Standard Association (UNE); and member of different groups for CEN European standards (AFNOR). Carmen is coordinator of the Spanish Aerobiology Network (REA), Past President of the International Association of Aerobiology (IAA), and she has participate in the coordination of  different Working Groups in the European Aerobiology Society (EAS), for Quality Control and Organizing Symposium.

Carmen has been also involved as Chair of different working groups in other societies or programs, e.g., Co-Chair of Allergens Committee at the WAO, Chair of Working Group on Aerobiology & Pollution at the EACCI; and Co-Chair of WG on Quality Control in EUMETNET-AutoPollen. Carmen is Editor-in-Chief of Aerobiologia, the International Journal of Aerobiology, Ed. Springer; and she was Chair in the VI European Aerobiology Society (EAS). Carmen is Honorary member of the International Association for Aerobiology (IAA) (2018) and Honorary member of the European Aerobiology Society (EAS) (2020).

It has long been suspected that atmospheric particles could affect living beings. Hippocrates (460-377 b. C.) maintained that “Man can be attacked by epidemic fevers when he inhales air infected with pollution hostile to the human race“. Lucretius Caro (98 b. C. – 54 b. C.), presented that “…When the sun’s rays let in pass through the darkness of a shuttered room, you will see a multitude of tiny bodies all mingling in a multitude of ways inside the sunbeam, moving in the void…”. The first references related to pollen appeared during the 15th century, with Monardi (1462-1536) studying the stamens in flowers and Van Helmont (1577-1644) presenting the “rose catarrh”.

The origin on aerobiology can be traced back during the 17th century with the “first microscopy” building by Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723). Micheli (1679-1737), illustrated the “seeds” of many fungi, discovering that these particles can be contaminants transported by the air.

In the 18th century, Sprengel (1793) presented the adaptive mechanism for airborne pollination; and Night (1799) added that the wind could transport pollen over great distances.

At the beginning of the 19th century was accepted the fact that pollen from some plant species, and spores from ferns, mosses, and fungi, were usually released into the air and wind transported. As an interesting example, important to remark the great role of Darwin (1809- 1882) and Ehrenberg (1849-1872) in Aerobiology. When Darwing traveling in the “Beagle”, on a scientific expedition, he found near the Cape Verde Islands dust transported in the atmosphere from North Africa; Ehrenberg helped in the identifications of organisms, both supporting the importance of long-distance transport. Pasteur (1822-1892) studied airborne particles using a volumetric method; and Miquel (1850-1922) carried out the first long and periodic sampling of the atmosphere with volumetric methods. In application to Medicine, Bostock (1773-1846) presented to the Royal Society of Medicine the “catarrhus aestivus”, and Blackley (1820-1900) demonstrated this sickness experimentally with himself, introducing the term of “hay fever”.

The term of “Aerobiology” was introduced with Meier (1893-1938). In 1964, the International Biological Program (IBP) supported this discipline, and the NASA funded the Atmospheric Biology Conference. IBP officially ended in 1974, and the International Aerobiology Association (IAA) was created in the first International Congress of Ecology, held in Hague in July 1974.

At the middle of the 20th century, and interesting discussion was focused on the quality results obtained with the different spore traps in used; for example, in a symposium on Aerobiology, held by the Linnean Society of London in 1957, Gregory (1907- 1986) criticized that “…the various kinds of spore trap in use up to 1950 shows that freely exposed traps could never provide unbiased estimates of all constituents of the air spore at the frequent intervals necessary to show that their numbers were affected by changing weather”. Today, the most used instrument in the world is the Hirst type spore trap, a method counting with the European norm EN16868, 2019.

However, at the beginning of 21st century, special interest arose for automatic pollen and fungal spore counting systems. Today, these studies progress in the frame of the EUMETNET AutoPollen Programme for “Serving as a Proof-of-Concept for a European automatic pollen monitoring network using high temporal-resolution real-time measurements“.