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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: THE TOXICITY OF PYRROLIZIDINE ALKALOID-CONTAINING PLANTS AND OTHER HEPATOTOXIC AND NEUROTOXIC PLANTS Title: Measurement of steroidal saponins in Panicum and Brachiaria grasses in the USA and Brazil

Authors
item Lee, Stephen
item Mitchell, Robert
item Gardner, Dale
item Tokarnia, C -
item Riet-Correa, F -

Submitted to: Poisoning by Plants, Mycotoxins, and Related Toxins
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: May 15, 2010
Publication Date: May 1, 2011
Citation: Lee, S.T., Mitchell, R., Gardner, D.R., Tokarnia, C.H., Riet-Correa, F. 2011. Measurement of steroidal saponins in Panicum and Brachiaria grasses in the USA and Brazil. In: Riet-Correa, F., Pfister, J., Schild, A.L., Wierenga, T., editors. Poisoning by Plants, Mycotoxins, and Related Toxins. Cambridge,MA. CAB International. 20:142-4.

Interpretive Summary: Several grasses in the Panicum genus throughout the world have been reported to toxic. In the United States, switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) has been reported to toxic to lambs and horses. In Brazil, Panicum maximum has been toxic to horses and mules. Glycosidic steroidal saponins have been found in some species of the Panicum genus and these compounds have been suggested as the toxic agents. Switchgrass has been identified for development into an efficient and environment friendly biomass energy crop. If switchgrass is grown on a scale useful for a bio-energy source, some of the material could be used by livestock as hay or pasture. In this study, a simple extraction and rapid reversed phase HPLC method was developed for measuring the saponins in Panicum samples. Differences in the concentrations of different saponins were observed between the different Panicum virgatum L. cultivars and Panicum Maximum samples.

Technical Abstract: Several grasses in the Panicum genus have been reported to cause hepatogenous photosensitization in animals throughout the world. In the United States, switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) has been reported to cause hepatogenous photosensitization in lambs and horses. In Brazil, cultivars of Panicum maximum have been implicated in hepatic disease and severe colic in horses and mules. Glycosidic steroidal saponins have been found in some species of the Panicum genus and these compounds have been suggested as one of the primary agents causing hepatogenous photosensitization in animals grazing these grasses. In the United States, switchgrass has been identified for development into an efficient and environment friendly biomass energy crop. A recent five-year study demonstrated that switchgrass grown for biofuel production produced 540 percent more energy than what is needed to grow, harvest and process it into cellulosic ethanol. If switchgrass is grown on a scale useful for a bio-energy source, some of the material could be used by livestock as hay or pasture. In this study, a simple extraction and rapid reversed phase HPLC-ESI-MS method was developed for quantifying the major saponins in Panicum samples. Differences in the relative concentration of different saponins were observed between the different Panicum virgatum L. cultivars and Panicum Maximum samples.

Last Modified: 10/21/2014
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