Ferula communis L. plants were collected all over the island of Sardinia (Italy) with the object of determining their poisonousness through UV microscopy examinations of the vittae fluorescence of fresh samples. The same fresh samples examined under UV light were subjected to TLC analyses to check the validity of the microscopical conclusions of the poisonousness of giant fennel plants, morphologically and caryologically identical. The results evidenced a positive correlation between the microscopical evaluation of the vittae fluorescence intensity and the presence of the chemical compounds responsible of the poisonousness of Ferula communis. These data suggest the employment of UV microscopy as a rapid tool to distinguish “poisonous” and “non-poisonous” giant fennel quite easily, complementing the chemical analysis of the latex. On the basis of the results collected with this rapid method, a ferulosis risk map of Sardinia was also suggested.
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