Researchers Receive USDA Grant to Study Transport of Pollen

Virginia Tech

A new season is often marked by the eruption of pollen into the air. As these invisible grains fall back down to Earth, those who suffer from grass and tree allergies are gravely impacted. And because allergy season is so significant, it tends to take our inflamed, watery eyes away from the fact that pollen is an integral part of plant reproduction.

New information is needed to understand the science behind pollen dispersal and how it affects agriculture and our daily lives.

Long-distance pollination is of concern due to the possibility of unintended cross-contamination between different hemp varieties, such as those used for fiber and for CBD (cannabidiol), said Ross, a professor in the Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering in the College of Engineering.

Virginia Tech researchers David Schmale, Shane Ross, and Hosein Foroutan recently received a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to study the transport of pollen from genetically engineered (GE) switchgrass and hemp using drones and mathematical models. The team is also collaborating with Neal Stewart at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

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