Characterisation and quantification of coumestans in lucerne grazed cattle

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review

4 Downloads (Pure)


Coumestans are secondary plant metabolites, occurring predominantly in legume species, and have been recorded to negatively impact both cattle and sheep fertility1. Coumestans act as anti-oestrogens as they interact directly with oestrogen receptors2. In comparison to isoflavones, which have a limited impact on oestrus, coumestans have greater potential to suppress oestrus3.
The most important coumestan synthesised in legumes is coumestrol. It was first isolated in lucerne and has later been identified in various other pasture species4,2. Concentrations of coumestrol in vitro are typically high in oestrogenic potency, similar to the potency of oestradiol5. Coumestrol acts similarly to oestradiol when administered exogenously, subsequently resulting in ovulation failure as a result of disruption to follicular growth5. Lucerne is an integral part of mixed farming systems in much of the southeast New South Wales. Current project was therefore, designed to characterise and quantify key coumestans in various cultivars of lucerne and consequently in vivo plasma concentrations in cattle grazed on lucerne.
Lucerne samples were collected from cultivated field experiments in Wagga Wagga (35.11° S, 147. 36° E), Australia at various growth stages of the pasture. Shoot samples were extracted in methanol using high pressure speed extractor. A three week field trial was conducted on cattle grazing lucerne (after synchronisation of their oestrous cycle). Blood samples were collected every four days for harvesting plasma to measure coumenstans using previously published method6. Targeted analysis was conducted using high pressure liquid chromatography coupled with quadrupole – time of flight mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS QToF). Compounds were identified by comparing accurate mass, retention time and mass spectra with analytical standards and available libraries. Concentrations of coumestands varied significantly with variety of lucerne. Further analysis to quantify coumestan levels at various stages on plant growth and blood plasma is currently under investigation.

1Ha et al.; Scientific Reports. 2019, (9), 1934.
2Nehybova et al.; Anti-Cancer Agent ME. 2014, (14), 1351-1362.
3Kelly et al.; Aust. J. Agric. Res. 1976, (27), 253-259.
4Sirtori et al.; Ann. Med. 2005, (37), 423-438.
5Ferreira-Dias et al.; Theriogenology. 2013, (80), 684-692.
6Ludwif et al.; Free Radical Bio. Med. 2015, (89), 758-769.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 04 Oct 2019
Event2019 RACI Natural Products Chemistry Group Annual One-Day Symposium and Chemical Ecology Workshop: Supported by the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation - National Wine and Grape Industry Training Centre, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, Australia
Duration: 03 Oct 201904 Oct 2019 (Flyer)


Conference2019 RACI Natural Products Chemistry Group Annual One-Day Symposium and Chemical Ecology Workshop
CityWagga Wagga
Internet address

Grant Number

  • Graham Centre Member Support Grant 2019


Dive into the research topics of 'Characterisation and quantification of coumestans in lucerne grazed cattle'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this