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Mycotoxins: Biosecurity, Food Safety and Biofuels Byproducts

Investigators
Kuldau, Gretchen
Institutions
Pennsylvania State University
Start date
2010
End date
2015
Objective
  1. Develop data for use in risk assessment of mycotoxins in human and animal health.
  2. Establish integrated strategies to manage and to reduce mycotoxin contamination in cereal grains and distillers grains.
  3. Define the regulation of mycotoxin biosynthesis and the molecular relationships among mycotoxigenic fungi.
Outputs:
  • Refereed journal publications; many will be co-authored by the members from multiple states.
  • Development and validation of new management tools for diagnosis and prevention of mycotoxin contamination.
  • Transfer of valuable research information to clientele groups (industry, government, grain producers and food producers) through general publications, website, and extension programs.
More information
Non-Technical Summary: The most important relevant issues facing grain and livestock producers are preventing mycotoxin contamination of food and feed, and reducing the deleterious effects of mycotoxins on livestock. For grain buyers and food processors, the primary need is a reliable method for rapid assessment of grain quality pertaining to mycotoxins and mycotoxigenic fungi. Rapid methods to detect mycotoxins at the first points of sale (elevators) as well as methods to detect mycotoxigenic fungi in the commodity (e.g. DON-producing Fusarium in barley) would help to address these concerns. Finally, workers who are responsible for animal and human health need information about the toxicity, carcinogenicity, modes of action, and biomarkers of exposure and disease for all categories of mycotoxins. The proposed research is wide-ranging and could lead to negative consequences if not completed. First, the presence of mycotoxins is an important health hazard. Hazard assessments including exposure assessment and evaluation of toxicity are essential. We propose basic research to define the toxicity of several important mycotoxins. Without this information, it is impossible to assess risks associated with mycotoxins. Additionally, the presence of mycotoxins in grain is an economic concern, especially in the context of global markets. Without an aggressive research program to prevent, treat, and contain outbreaks of mycotoxins in grain, US grain producers will suffer the consequences of reduced marketability of their products. Furthermore, the proposed research addresses biosecurity concerns. The natural occurrence of mycotoxins in grain is an important security concern for the grain industry and end-users of grain; mycotoxins have been used as agents of terrorism, e.g. aflatoxin in Iraq. Without a proactive research program to find innovative ways to monitor, prevent, and treat mycotoxin contamination, US agriculture will be unprepared to deal effectively with a mycotoxin outbreak, regardless of its origin. Finally, the production of mycotoxins by mycotoxigenic fungi represents a continuing problem in agriculture. Improving our understanding of how mycotoxin biosynthesis is regulated in grain-associated fungi will not only lead to novel treatment strategies, but will also advance our understanding of fungal pathogenesis in general. The scientists involved in this multistate, multidisciplinary research proposal work individually on mycotoxin issues related to their respective disciplines and areas of expertise. Just as agriculture is diverse and varies greatly from state to state, the occurrence and severity of mycotoxin outbreaks vary widely across the US. A multistate effort ensures a thorough approach to investigate a complex and highly variable phenomenon that has significant impacts on both producers and consumers. Outputs will include information on the action of mycotoxins in livestock and animal models. This information will be applicable to the risk assessment process. The work will also address stakeholders' continuing need for new detection and monitoring methods for grain and in DGs.

Approach: 2.1 Surveillance Surveillance for mycotoxins and mycotoxigenic fungi is critical for security as well as for maintaining high quality grains and grain products. PCR-based methods to detect mycotoxigenic fungi have provided rapid and inexpensive alternatives to techniques based on morphology. Committee members from TX, IN, PA, ND will collaborate to expand the use of this PCR identification technique and related DNA technologies for surveillance. Others will continue to develop more multiplex assays from mycotoxin-specific genes. We will also work with university diagnostic labs to implement these techniques. 2 3.4 Understanding the cause for high mycotoxin in asymptomatic grains PA will quantify mycotoxin levels in grains at different developmental stages and under different conditions of growth of the host plants. Milestones: (2010): We will expand the content at our website and improve the links. (2012): We will organize a mycotoxin symposium at the Midwest AOAC annual meeting. (2014): We will organize a mycotoxin symposium at the Midwest AOAC annual meeting.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
View this project
Project number
PEN04418
Accession number
223928
Categories
Sanitation and Quality Standards
Mycotoxins
Bacterial Pathogens
Natural Toxins
Chemical Contaminants
Risk Assessment, Management, and Communication