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Variation in ptaquiloside content in bracken (Pteridium esculentum (Forst. f) Cockayne) in New Zealand

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AIM: To examine stands of bracken fern (Pteridium esculentum) from throughout New Zealand for the presence and concentration of ptaquiloside (Pta), and to compare the presence and/or concentrations of Pta in areas where bovine enzootic haematuria (BEH) and/or acute haemorrhagic syndrome (AHS) has been known to occur with those where BEH/AHS has not been recorded.

METHODS: Stands of bracken fern were sampled from 275 sites throughout New Zealand. Sixty-two stands were from a regional survey predominantly from the Waikato and Coromandel regions, 27 were from a farm in the King Country where BEH/AHS had been investigated previously, and 186 were from a national survey of the North and South Islands. Sampling sites were from a mixture of grazed paddocks, roadsides, and forest and bush areas. Samples comprised whole young fronds, the tops of unfurling young fronds, or, for the Regional Survey, mature green fronds from the previous season. Pta was extracted from the samples, and measured using high-performance liquid chromatography. Information on the occurrence of BEH/AHS at specific locations was obtained from published information and records from animal health laboratories in New Zealand.

RESULTS: The 275 samples contained widely varying concentrations of Pta. In the Farm Survey, concentrations ranged from 280–13,300 (mean 3,800) g/g (on a dry-weight basis) in the 63% of samples that contained Pta. A high proportion of samples from the Regional and National Surveys covering large areas of the country contained no detectable levels of Pta. The majority (61%) of samples from these two surveys which contained Pta were from areas where BEH/AHS was reported to occur. Combining data from all surveys, in areas with reported BEH/AHS, 42% of samples collected contained Pta, compared with 6% where BEH/AHS was not known to occur.

CONCLUSIONS: Concentrations of Pta in bracken in New Zealand vary greatly, and in a high proportion of stands Pta is not found. A higher incidence of Pta, and some very high concentrations, are found in areas where BEH/AHS was known to occur.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-12-01

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