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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: ASTRAGALUS AND OXYTROPIS POISONING IN LIVESTOCK Title: Influence of seed endophyte amounts on swainsonine concentrations in Astragalus and Oxytropis locoweeds

Authors
item Grum, Daniel
item Cook, Daniel
item Gardner, Dale
item Roper, Jessie
item Pfister, James
item Ralphs, Michael

Submitted to: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 30, 2012
Publication Date: August 22, 2012
Repository URL: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/jf3024062
Citation: Grum, D.S., Cook, D., Gardner, D.R., Roper, J.M., Pfister, J.A., Ralphs, M.H. 2012. Influence of seed endophyte amounts on swainsonine concentrations in Astragalus and Oxytropis locoweeds. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 66(33): 8083-9.

Interpretive Summary: Locoism is a toxic syndrome of livestock caused by the ingestion of a subset of legumes known as “locoweeds” endemic to arid and semi-arid regions of the western United States. Locoweeds contain the toxic alkaloid swainsonine, which is produced by an endophytic fungi. Two chemotypes of plant can be found within toxic populations of locoweeds: chemotype 1 plants are defined as individuals containing swainsonine concentrations greater than 0.01% dry weight and quantitatively greater amounts of Undifilum, while chemotype 2 plants are defined as individuals containing less than 0.01% swainsonine and quantitatively smaller amounts of Undifilum. To elucidate the mechanisms that govern chemotypes, the amount of Undifilum in seeds/embryos was manipulated, thus altering subsequent swainsonine concentrations in three locoweed species: Astragalus mollissimus, Astragalus lentiginosus, and Oxytropis sericea. Chemotype 1 seeds that were fungicide-treated or had the seed coat removed resulted in plants with swainsonine concentrations comparable to chemotype 2 plants. Conversely, embryos from chemotype 1 and 2 seeds that were inoculated with the endophyte resulted in plants with swainsonine concentrations comparable to chemotype 1 plants. This interconversion between the two swainsonine chemotypes suggests that the quantity of endophyte present in the seed at the time of germination is a key determinant of the eventual chemotype.

Technical Abstract: Locoism is a toxic syndrome of livestock caused by the ingestion of a subset of legumes known as “locoweeds” endemic to arid and semi-arid regions of the western United States. Locoweeds contain the toxic alkaloid swainsonine, which is produced by the endophytic fungi Undifilum species. Two chemotypes of plant can be found within toxic populations of locoweeds: chemotype 1 plants are defined as individuals containing swainsonine concentrations greater than 0.01% dry weight and quantitatively greater amounts of Undifilum, while chemotype 2 plants are defined as individuals containing less than 0.01% swainsonine and quantitatively smaller amounts of Undifilum. To elucidate the mechanisms that govern chemotypes, the amount of Undifilum in seeds/embryos was manipulated, thus altering subsequent swainsonine concentrations in three locoweed species: Astragalus mollissimus, Astragalus lentiginosus, and Oxytropis sericea. Chemotype 1 seeds that were fungicide-treated or had the seed coat removed resulted in plants with swainsonine concentrations comparable to chemotype 2 plants. Conversely, embryos from chemotype 1 and 2 seeds that were inoculated with the endophyte resulted in plants with swainsonine concentrations comparable to chemotype 1 plants. This reproducible interconversion between the two swainsonine chemotypes suggests that the quantity of endophyte present in the seed at the time of germination is a key determinant of the eventual chemotype.

Last Modified: 10/24/2014
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