ProjectMonitoring for azole-resistant Aspergillus fumigatus (MARAf) 
Timescale: 2023-2027
Funder: UKRI Natural Environment Research Council


We are all exposed to A. fumigatus spores on a daily basis, and our innate immune system deals with these spores when we inhale them to prevent them from reaching our lungs. However, if this innate immunity fails to clear the spores (due to illness or treatment that suppresses the immune system) the spores can reach the lung cavities and grow, causing an infection called aspergillosis. 

Aspergillosis is treated with a range of drugs called azoles, but if spores are already azole-resistant when they are inhaled, the resulting infection will be more difficult to treat. It is important to note that the chances of developing aspergillosis are the same whether you inhale a susceptible and drug-resistant spore - it is your body's response to these spores that determine whether you develop the infection.

Project aims

This project is a collaboration between the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH), Imperial College London, NIAB and The Open University to understand the UK-hotspots of azole resistant Aspergillus fumigatus in homes, recyclers and agriculture. UKCEH is leading the homes study which will involve the participation of citizen scientists to undertake sample collection to identify A. fumigatus spores in air and soil samples. 

Citizen scientist participation

We have recruited 40 citizen scientists to take samples for us during July 2023. 

Videos showing what will be required for this sampling are shown below:

What you will receive in your sampling pack

Setting up your air sampler

Removing your air sampler

Fabric strip burying

Removing the fabric strip

Collection of the soil sample

Previous related research

Work previously undertaken at UKCEH recruited citizen scientists to help collect Aspergillus fumigatus spores from air and soil samples as part of Dr Jennifer Shelton’s PhD - the #ScienceSolstice and #SummerSoilstice sampling campaigns. Work published from these sampling campaigns are:


UKCEH people