Virus infection stimulates phyto-oestrogen production in pasture legume plants growing in grazed swards

R. A.C. Jones, D. G. Ferris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Four field experiments were sown with AMV-infected or healthy seed of burr medic (Medicago polymorpha) and grazed by sheep; two were sown with cv. Circle Valley and two with cv. Santiago. Seed-infected plants acted as primary sources for virus spread by naturally occurring aphids. Insecticides and admixture with annual ryegrass (Lolium rigidum), a non-host of AMV, suppressed virus spread to different extents in the plots sown with infected seed. Effects of the different amounts of virus spread obtained on overall concentration of the oestrogenic compound coumestrol (dihydroxycoumestan) in dry stems and pods, and on seed production were measured in the medic. With cv. Santiago, stem and pod coumestrol concentration values for plots sown with healthy seed were significantly smaller than those for all plots sown with infected seed regardless of whether they were sprayed. With cv. Circle Valley, the coumestrol values for stems from plots sown with healthy seed were significantly smaller than those for unsprayed plots sown with infected seed but not than those for sprayed plots or ones with grass admixtures, and there were no significant differences with pods. There was always a significant positive relationship between concentration of coumestrol in medic stems and percentage AMV infection of swards; this was also so with pods in two experiments. A linear model best fitted this relationship with cv. Circle Valley but a logarithmic model did so with cv Santiago. In glasshouse grown plants, the coumestrol content of dried medic shoots was increased 11 (cv. Circle Valley) and five (cv. Santiago) times by AMV infection. AMV increased mean coumestrol concentrations up to 256 ppm (field) and 237 ppm (glasshouse) in stems and 223 ppm in pods (field). Sowing healthy seed in new pasture swards was an effective strategy for minimising coumestrol accumulation in burr medic swards. Two, but not single, applications of a newer generation pyrethroid insecticide to swards in which AMV was spreading significantly diminished coumestrol accumulation but applying organophosphorus insecticide twice and carbamate insecticide repeatedly did not. Medic seed yields and individual seed weights were sometimes significantly increased by the treatments, suppression of AMV spread by regular carbamate sprays being sufficient to increase seed yield by 55%.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-179
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Applied Biology
Volume138
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2001

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