Anthropogenic climate change and allergen exposure: The role of plant biology

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2012 Jan;129(1):27-32. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2011.10.032. Epub 2011 Nov 21.


Accumulation of anthropogenic gases, particularly CO(2), is likely to have 2 fundamental effects on plant biology. The first is an indirect effect through Earth's increasing average surface temperatures, with subsequent effects on other aspects of climate, such as rainfall and extreme weather events. The second is a direct effect caused by CO(2)-induced stimulation of photosynthesis and plant growth. Both effects are likely to alter a number of fundamental aspects of plant biology and human health, including aerobiology and allergic diseases, respectively. This review highlights the current and projected effect of increasing CO(2) and climate change in the context of plants and allergen exposure, emphasizing direct effects on plant physiologic parameters (eg, pollen production) and indirect effects (eg, fungal sporulation) related to diverse biotic and abiotic interactions. Overall, the review assumes that future global mitigation efforts will be limited and suggests a number of key research areas that will assist in adapting to the ongoing challenges to public health associated with increased allergen exposure.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Antigens, Plant / immunology*
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Climate Change*
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Fungi / physiology
  • Humans
  • Plant Physiological Phenomena
  • Plants / immunology*
  • Pollen / immunology
  • Seasons


  • Allergens
  • Antigens, Plant
  • Carbon Dioxide