Chemical characterization of the aqueous algistatic fraction of barley straw (Hordeum vulgare) inhibitingMicrocystis aeruginosa

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The algistatic properties of aqueous barley straw (Hordeum vulgare) extracts have been observed in laboratory studies and in situ. This reported algistatic property has been used by farmers and horticulturists to control algal blooms in various systems and has become standard practice in some areas. However, both inhibition and stimulation of algal growth in freshwater and marine species have been demonstrated. While the number of taxa known to be inhibited by barley straw has increased, comparatively little has been done to isolate and classify the compound(s) responsible for this algistatic effect. A microplate assay system using Microcystis aeruginosa was developed to isolate and identify the inhibitory components of barley straw extract. M. aeruginosa was selected for the bioassay because it is consistently inhibited by barley straw extract in studies conducted by our laboratory and others. The 24-well plate assay utilizes in vivo fluorescence monitoring with a TECAN GENios plate reader to determine chlorophyll-a levels in each culture. Fractionation and partial chemical characterization of inhibitory extracts suggests that the inhibitors are polyphenolics with molecular weights (MW) between 1,000 and 3,000 Da. Percolation of the aqueous extract through a Polyamide CC6 resin or through various MW cutoff filters resulted in the loss of algistatic activity, which confirms this assertion, while hydrolysis resulted in little change in the activity profile. Fractionation by HPLC methods yielded a highly potent multi-compound fraction, showing toxicity at 353 mg L-1 and algistatic activity between 11.1 and 3.53 mg L-1.

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