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This article provides an overview of the Poisonous Plant Research Laboratory (PPRL), about the unique services and activities of the PPRL and the potential assistance that they can provide to plant poisoning incidences. The PPRL is a federal research laboratory. It is part of the Agricultural Research Service, the in-house research arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The mission of the PPRL is to identify toxic plants and their toxic compounds, determine how the plants poison animals, and develop diagnostic and prognostic procedures for poisoned animals. Furthermore, the PPRL's mission is to identify the conditions under which poisoning occurs and develop management strategies and treatments to reduce losses. Information obtained through research efforts at the PPRL is mostly used by the livestock industry, natural resource managers, veterinarians, chemists, plant and animal scientists, extension personnel, and other state and federal agencies. PPRL currently has 9 scientists and 17 support staff, representing various disciplines consisting of toxicology, reproductive toxicology, veterinary medicine, chemistry, animal science, range science, and plant physiology. This team of scientists provides an interdisciplinary approach to applied and basic research to develop solutions to plant intoxications. While the mission of the PPRL primarily impacts the livestock industry, spinoff benefits such as development of animal models, isolation and characterization of novel compounds, elucidation of biological and molecular mechanisms of action, national and international collaborations, and outreach efforts are significant to biomedical researchers. The staff at the PPRL has extensive knowledge regarding a number of poisonous plants. Although the focus of their knowledge is on plants that affect livestock, oftentimes, these plants are also poisonous to humans, and thus, similar principles could apply for cases of human poisonings. Consequently, the information provided herein could be of benefit to healthcare providers for human cases as well.

Citation

Kevin D Welch, Kip E Panter, Dale R Gardner, Bryan L Stegelmeier. The good and the bad of poisonous plants: an introduction to the USDA-ARS Poisonous Plant Research Laboratory. Journal of medical toxicology : official journal of the American College of Medical Toxicology. 2012 Jun;8(2):153-9

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PMID: 22367563

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