Quantification of cyanogenic glycosides in white clover (Trifolium repens L.) from horse pastures in relation to equine grass sickness

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Abstract

As a preliminary step in testing the hypothesis that ingestion of cyanogenic glycosides in white clover (Trifolium repens L.) may be one of the risk factors for equine grass sickness (EGS, or equine dysautonomia), the cyanogen content of clover leaves collected from fields (n = 16) soon after an occurrence of EGS was compared with that of (i) control white clover samples (n = 10) collected from the same fields out of the disease period and (ii) control clover samples (n = 54) collected sequentially from three control fields. Clover samples from EGS fields were highly cyanogenic, with a median cyanide potential of 497 (range 3071786) mg kg dry matter-1. Furthermore, clover collected from EGS fields soon after an occurrence of EGS had significantly higher concentrations of the cyanogenic glycosides linamarin and lotaustralin than control samples. While these findings indicate that horses grazing EGS fields may ingest significant quantities of cyanogenic glycosides, the design of the study does not facilitate investigation of any potential association between cyanogens and EGS. Further study is therefore required to determine whether cyanogens are a risk factor for EGS or whether these findings simply reflect variations in plant metabolism unrelated to disease pathogenesis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)274-279
Number of pages6
JournalGrass and Forage Science
Volume67
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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