Tropical Animal Health and Production

, Volume 50, Issue 5, pp 925–935 | Cite as

Mini review on photosensitization by plants in grazing herbivores

  • Syeda M. HussainEmail author
  • Valdo Rodrigues Herling
  • Paulo Henrique Mazza Rodrigues
  • Ishrat Naz
  • Hamayun Khan
  • Muhammad Tahir Khan


Photosensitization is severe dermatitis or oxidative/chemical changes in the epidermal tissues activated by the light-induced excitation of molecules within the tissue. It is a series of reactions mediated through light receptors and is more common when the plant-produced metabolites are heterocyclic/polyphenols in nature. The areas affected are exposed body parts and mostly non-pigmented areas with least ultraviolet protection. Similarly, cellular alteration also occurs in the affected animal’s dermal tissues and body parts and grazing animals by the accumulation and activation of photodynamic molecules. Photo-oxidation can also occur within the plant due to the generation of reactive oxygen species causing damage and degradation in the form of free radicals and DNA. During the last few decades, many new tropical grass species have been introduced in the grazing lands which are genetically modified, and the animals grazing on them are facing various forms of toxicity including photosensitization. The plant’s secondary metabolites/drugs may cause toxicity when bacteria, viral agents, fungi (Pithomyces chartarum), or neoplasia injures the liver and prevents the phylloerythrin excretion. All these may disturb the liver enzymes and blood profile causing a decrease in weight and production (wool and milk etc.) with severe dermal, digestive, and nervous problems. Recent advancements in OMICS (cellomics, ethomics, metabolomics, metabonomics, and glycomics) have enabled us to detect and identify the plants’ secondary metabolites and changes in the animal’s physiology and histopathology as a causative of photosensitivity. The review focuses on types of photosensitization, reasons, secondary metabolic compounds, chemistry, and environmental effect on plants.


Animals Toxicity Secondary metabolites Light activation 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary SciencesThe University of Agriculture PeshawarPeshawarPakistan
  2. 2.College of Animal Sciences and Food EngineeringUniversity of Sao PauloPirassunungaBrazil
  3. 3.Department of Plant Pathology, Faculty of Crop ProtectionThe University of Agriculture PeshawarPeshawarPakistan

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