Research Projects



Currentright arrow Completedright arrow


Currentright arrow Completedright arrow


Currentright arrow Completedright arrow

Biodiversity and microbiota: a novel pathway to allergy and asthma prevention

Asthma prevalence in New Zealand is amongst the highest in the world and there is no cure or effective prevention. In a previous study in 50,000 infants followed-up for 18 years, we have shown that biodiverse green space was associated with a reduced risk of asthma. We hypothesise that this may be due to increased environmental and human microbial diversity, which have been shown to direct the immune system away from developing allergies and asthma. The proposed study in 900 urban children from Wellington will assess, for the first time, whether biodiversity reduces allergy and asthma risks through differences in indoor and human commensal microbiota and specific immune responses, whilst adjusting for effects of nutrition, physical activity and stress. The overall objective is to increase our understanding of modifiable causes and mechanisms of allergies and asthma, enabling the development of novel and targeted interventions.


We are looking at how exposure to the natural environment affects health in children aged 6-11yrs. The aim of the study is to investigate if exposure to greater biodiversity may have health benefits, which may lead to better treatment options for common health conditions such as asthma and allergies. If your child is 6-11yrs, the research team would be grateful if you would consider taking part. For this study to be successful, the study needs children with and without asthma and allergies to take part.

The study initially involves completing a questionnaire and your child taking part in two tests, a breathing and an allergy test. The research team will later invite a smaller number of selected participants to take part in some further clinical tests.

To take part in the research, please return the consent forms in the invitation pack given to your child. The research team greatly appreciates the parents who have already responded.

If you would like further information about the study and the tests involved, please refer to the invitation pack given to your child recently, click this link or please contact the study coordinator:

Jean Feary McKenzie

0508 ASTHMA or

May 2019


  • Professor Julian Crane
  • University of Otago, NZ
  • Dr Geoffrey Donovan
  • US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, USA
  • Professor Geraint Rogers
  • Flinders University, Australia
  • Professor Chris Cunningham
  • Massey University, NZ
  • Professor Demetrios Gatziolis
  • US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, USA
  • Dr Thorsten Stanley
  • University of Otago, NZ
  • Professor Bernard Breier
  • Massey University, NZ


  • Health Research Council of New Zealand