Production of toxic pavettamine and pavettamine conjugates in the gousiekte-causing **Fadogia homblei** plant and its relation to the bacterial endosymbiont
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Phytochemistry: an international journal of plant biochemistry. - Oxford
, p. 92-98
University of Antwerp
Plant poisoning of livestock is responsible for considerable economic losses in southern Africa. Six plant species of the Rubiaceae family are known to cause gousiekte, a cardiac syndrome of ruminants induced by ingestion of the toxic compound pavettamine. Progress in understanding the etiology of this disease is largely hampered by the variable toxicity of the plants and the absence of a quantification method for pavettamine. The pavettamine concentration in leaf samples of Fadogia homblei, a known gousiekte causing plant, was analyzed by mass-spectrometry. In the most apical leaf pair, the highest concentration of pavettamine was detected. Distal leaves contained progressively less pavettamine. Besides a significant amount of free pavettamine, most pavettamine was found to occur in a conjugated form. To which molecules the pavettamine is conjugated remains unknown as is the function of conjugated pavettamine in the development of gousiekte. All know gousiekte-causing plants contain symbiotic bacteria in their leaves; it was hypothesized that these bacteria might be involved in the production of pavettamine. However, analysis of in vitro cultures of the F. homblei endosymbiont revealed no production of pavettamine. Pavettamine is therefore not produced by the bacteria alone. It is either the product of the interaction with the plant or solely produced by the host. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.