Ptaquiloside in irish bracken ferns and receiving waters, with implications for land managers

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Connie O'Driscoll, Carmel Ramwell, Brendan Harhen, Liam Morrison, Frederik Clauson-Kaas, Hans Chr. Bruun Hansen, Graeme Campbell, Jerome Sheahan, Bruce Misstear, Liwen Xiao

Ptaquiloside, along with other natural phytotoxins, is receiving increased attention from scientists and land use managers. There is an urgent need to increase empirical evidence to understand the scale of phytotoxin mobilisation and potential to enter into the environment. In this study the risk of ptaquiloside to drinking water was assessed by quantifying ptaquiloside in the receiving waters at three drinking water abstraction sites across Ireland and in bracken fronds surrounding the abstraction sites. We also investigated the impact of different management regimes (spraying, cutting and rolling) on ptaquiloside concentrations at plot-scale in six locations in Northern Ireland, UK. Ptaquiloside concentrations were determined using recent advances in the use of LC-MS for the detection and quantification of ptaquiloside. The results indicate that ptaquiloside is present in bracken stands surrounding drinking water abstractions in Ireland, and ptaquiloside concentrations were also observed in the receiving waters. Furthermore, spraying was found to be the most effective bracken management regime observed in terms of reducing ptaquiloside load. Increased awareness is vital on the implications of managing land with extensive bracken stands.

Original languageEnglish
Article number543
Issue number5
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2016

    Research areas

  • Journal Article

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