Predicting the main pollen season of Broussonetia Papyrifera (paper mulberry) tree

Ahmad Kakakhail, Aimal Rextin, Jeroen Buters, Chun Lin, José M. Maya-Manzano, Mehwish Nasim, Jose Oteros, Antonio Picornell, Hillary Pinnock, Jurgen Schwarze, Osman Yusuf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Paper mulberry pollen, declared a pest in several countries including Pakistan, can trigger severe allergies and cause asthma attacks. We aimed to develop an algorithm that could accurately predict high pollen days to underpin an alert system that would allow patients to take timely precautionary measures. We developed and validated two prediction models that take historical pollen and weather data as their input to predict the start date and peak date of the pollen season in Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan. The first model is based on linear regression and the second one is based on phenological modelling. We tested our models on an original and comprehensive dataset from Islamabad. The mean absolute errors (MAEs) for the start day are 2.3 and 3.7 days for the linear and phenological models, respectively, while for the peak day, the MAEs are 3.3 and 4.0 days, respectively. These encouraging results could be used in a website or app to notify patients and healthcare providers to start preparing for the paper mulberry pollen season. Timely action could reduce the burden of symptoms, mitigate the risk of acute attacks and potentially prevent deaths due to acute pollen-induced allergy.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0296878
JournalPLoS One
Issue number2 February
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024


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