Microbial degradation and impact of Bracken toxin ptaquiloside on microbial communities in soil.

Pernille Engel, Kristian Koefoed Brandt, Lars Holm Rasmussen, Rikke Glerup Ovesen, Jan Sørensen

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    The carcinogenic and toxic ptaquiloside (PTA) is a major secondary metabolite in Bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum (L.) Kuhn) and was hypothesized to influence microbial communities in soil below Bracken stands. Soil and Bracken tissue were sampled at field sites in
    Denmark (DK) and New Zealand (NZ). PTA contents of 2.1 ± 0.5 mg g1 and 37.0 ± 8.7 mg g1 tissue were measured in Bracken fronds from DK and NZ, respectively. In the two soils the PTA levels were similar (0–5 lg g1 soil); a decrease with depth could be discerned in the deeper B and C horizons of the DK soil (weak acid sandy Spodosol), but not in the NZ soil (weak acid loamy Entisol). In the DK soil PTA turnover was predominantly due to microbial degradation (biodegradation); chemical hydrolysis was occurring mainly in the uppermost A horizon where pH was very low (3.4). Microbial activity (basal respiration) and growth ([3H]leucine incorporation assay) increased after PTA exposure, indicating that the Bracken toxin served as a C substrate for the organotrophic microorganisms. On the other hand, there was no apparent impact of PTA on community size as measured by substrate-induced respiration or composition as indicated by community-level physiological profiles. Our results demonstrate that PTA stimulates microbial activity and that microorganisms play a predominant role for rapid PTA degradation in Bracken-impacted soils.
    Original languageEnglish
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)202-209
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


    • laboratory techniques
    • HPLC
    • microbiolology
    • ptaquiloside
    • soil

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