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Environ Sci Technol. 2018 May 1;52(9):5105-5114. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.7b05915. Epub 2018 Mar 28.

Biotoxin Tropolone Contamination Associated with Nationwide Occurrence of Pathogen Burkholderia plantarii in Agricultural Environments in China.

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Ministry of Agriculture Key Laboratory of Molecular Biology of Crop Pathogens and Insects, Institute of Pesticide and Environmental Toxicology , Zhejiang University , Hangzhou 310058 , China.
Ecology and Environmental Sciences Center, South China Botanical Garden , Chinese Academy of Sciences , Guangzhou 510650 , China.
School of Agriculture and Biology , Shanghai Jiao Tong University , Shanghai 200240 , China.
State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences , Chinese Academy of Sciences , Beijing 100085 , China.
College of Plant Protection , Hunan Agricultural University , Changsha 410128 , China.
Patent Examination Cooperation Jiangsu Center of the Patent Office, State Intellectual Property Office of the PRC , Suzhou 215163 , China.
Solution Department , Jiangsu Rotam Chemistry Co., Ltd. , Suzhou 215301 , China.


Tropolone, a biotoxin produced by the agricultural pathogen Burkholderia plantarii, exerts cytotoxicity toward a wide array of biota. However, due to the lack of quantitative and qualitative approach, both B. plantarii occurrence and tropolone contamination in agricultural environments remain poorly understood. Here, we presented a sensitive and reliable method for detection of B. plantarii in artificial, plant, and environmental matrices by tropolone-targeted gas chromatography-triple-quadrupole tandem mass spectrometry analysis. Limits of detection for B. plantarii and tropolone were 10 colony-forming units (CFU)/mL and 0.017 μg/kg, respectively. In a series of simulation trials, we found that B. plantarii from 10 to 108 CFU/mL produced tropolone between 0.006 and 107.8 mg/kg in a cell-population-dependent manner, regardless of habitat. Correlation analysis clarified a reliable reflection of B. plantarii density by tropolone level with R2 values from 0.9201 to 0.9756 ( p < 0.01). Through a nationwide pilot study conducted in China, tropolone contamination was observed at 0.014-0.157 mg/kg in paddy soil and rice grains, and subsequent redundancy analysis revealed soil organic matter to be a dominant environmental factor, having a positive correlation with tropolone contamination. In this context, our results imply that potential ecological and dietary risks posed by long-term exposure to trace levels of tropolone contamination are of concern.


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