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Analysis of Polyphenols in Water Primrose (Ludwigia hexapetala) Plants from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta of California

December 18, 2023

Water primrose (Ludwigia hexapetala) is an invasive aquatic plant that has rapidly increased in coverage throughout the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Water primrose has invaded wetlands and may contribute towards mortality of tules (Schoenoplectus spp.) and cattails (Typha spp.). Little research has been completed on the mechanisms responsible for marsh loss, but previous studies have suggested that water primrose contains allelopathic chemicals that could cause plant mortality. Three major allelopathic polyphenols (myricitrin, prunin, and quercitrin) previously identified in L. hexapetala leaves were measured in leaf, water, and soil samples from Delta marshes infested with water primrose. Samples were collected in  summer 2021, fall 2022, and spring 2022 at Big Break, Latham Slough, Liberty Island, and Sherman Lake. Samples were collected at Rhode Island and Venice Cut only in summer 2021. Samples were collected at the interface between water primrose and the marsh and within the patch of floating water primrose. In analyzing leaf samples by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry, ion ratios and retention times of the prunin reference standard did not align with the analyte in the samples (i.e., prunin was not detected in water primrose from the Delta). Further analysis by high resolution mass spectrometry and library matching resulted in the tentative identification of salipurposid, a structural isomer of prunin, as the potential third major polyphenol expressed by water primrose in the Delta. For the purpose of this study, salipurposid was semi-quantitated using the prunin reference standard to give concentration values. In leaves, concentrations of myricitrin, salipurposid, and quercitrin ranged 900-4397 µg/g dry weight (d.w.), 7-2913 µg/g d.w., and 363-3956 µg/g d.w., respectively. Analysis of water samples for polyphenols found the highest number of detections in summer, with many non-detects in fall and spring. Polyphenols were detected in soil samples throughout the year. Quercitrin was the most frequently detected polyphenol in water (53%, 5-3660 ng/L) and soil (67%, 11-1766 ng/g d.w.). The proliferation of water primrose likely threatens the Delta ecosystem. Additional studies could further elucidate how water primrose affects native marsh habitat and causes mortality of emergent macrophytes.

Publication Year 2023
Title Analysis of Polyphenols in Water Primrose (Ludwigia hexapetala) Plants from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta of California
DOI 10.5066/P92P2M7S
Authors Michael S Gross, Judith Drexler, Michelle L Hladik
Product Type Data Release
Record Source USGS Digital Object Identifier Catalog
USGS Organization Sacramento Projects Office (USGS California Water Science Center)