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Open AccessArticle

Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids: The Botanical Origin of Pollen Collected during the Flowering Period of Echium vulgare and the Stability of Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids in Bee Bread

1
Agroscope, Swiss Bee Research Centre, Schwarzenburgstrasse 161, 3003 Bern, Switzerland
2
Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO), Risk Assessment Division, 3003 Bern, Switzerland
3
Biologisches Institut für Pollenanalyse K. Bieri GmbH, Talstrasse 23, 3122 Kehrsatz, Switzerland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Juraj Majtan
Molecules 2019, 24(12), 2214; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules24122214
Received: 29 March 2019 / Revised: 7 June 2019 / Accepted: 9 June 2019 / Published: 13 June 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Activities of Honeybee Products)
Previous studies have shown that pollen products sold as nutritional supplements and used in apitherapy may contain toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) if bees collect pollen from PA-containing plants, such as Echium vulgare. In this study, the botanical origin of pollen from two observation sites was studied. Despite a high PA content in pollen samples that bees collected during E. vulgare’s flowering period, bees were found to collect relatively few Echium pollen loads. Thus, the monitoring of pollen loads collected at the apiaries is unviable to estimate the risk of PA contamination in pollen or bee bread. In a second step, the stability of PAs in bee bread samples containing PAs at concentrations of 2538 ng/g and 98 ng/g was assessed over a period of five or six months, respectively. No significant PA reduction was observed in bee bread stored at 15 °C, but there were overall PA reductions of 39% and 33% in bee bread stored at 30 °C, reflecting hive conditions. While PA N-oxides decreased over time, other types of PAs remained relatively stable. Monitoring PAs in pollen products remains important to ensure consumer safety and should include echivulgarine (and its N-oxide), the major PA type found in pollen from E. vulgare. View Full-Text
Keywords: pollen; bee bread; pollen analysis; Echium vulgare; pyrrolizidine alkaloids; echivulgarine pollen; bee bread; pollen analysis; Echium vulgare; pyrrolizidine alkaloids; echivulgarine
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MDPI and ACS Style

Kast, C.; Kilchenmann, V.; Reinhard, H.; Bieri, K.; Zoller, O. Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids: The Botanical Origin of Pollen Collected during the Flowering Period of Echium vulgare and the Stability of Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids in Bee Bread. Molecules 2019, 24, 2214.

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