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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Mechanisms underlying Phalaris aquatica "sudden death" syndrome in sheep.

Twenty outbreaks of Phalaris aquatica "sudden death" syndrome in sheep were investigated between 1981 and 1991. Four were confirmed and one was suspected, to be a cardiac disorder; 5 were confirmed and 3 were suspected, to be a polioencephalomalacic disorder; the aetiology of the remaining 7 outbreaks could not be determined. Potentially toxic levels of hydrocyanic acid (20 to 36 mg/100 g) were measured in the 3 toxic phalaris pastures tested. The measurement of potentially toxic levels of nitrate nitrogen (2920 micrograms/g) in toxic phalaris pastures by others, was noted. It is suggested that phalaris "sudden death" syndrome could have as many as 4 different underlying mechanisms, and that these might reflect the presence in the plant of a cardio-respiratory toxin, a thiaminase and amine co-substate, cyanogenic compounds, and nitrate compounds.[1]


  1. Mechanisms underlying Phalaris aquatica "sudden death" syndrome in sheep. Bourke, C.A., Carrigan, M.J. Aust. Vet. J. (1992) [Pubmed]
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