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Mycotoxins: Biosecurity and Food Safety


<OL> <LI> To functionally characterize the polyketide synthase genes encoded in the genome of Fusarium graminearum. <LI> To understand the expression of these genes and their products during the life cycle of Fusarium graminearum.

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Non-Technical Summary: Mycotoxin contamination of grains is a serious food safety and economic problem in the United States. The goal of the project is to control and eliminate mycotoxins from occurring in our grain based foods. Wheat head blight is a devastating disease to the grain growing region of the midwest. Mycotoxins produced by the scab fungus are of particular impact in the disease. We are dissecting how one set of mycotoxins, the polyketides are biosynthesized by the fungus. Understanding how mycotoxin production and plant colonization by the fungus interface will lead to biology based control of this important pathogen. <P> Approach: In this study we identified and functionally disrupted 15 PKS genes from the genome. The mutants were then characterized as far as pathogenicity, sporulation and normal mycelial growth. We also studied the expression of these genes under 18 different conditions corresponding to those that may be encountered in the field. Five of the genes were involved in mycotoxin biosynthesis directly. Characterization of the conditions under which these genes are expressed and how they are regulated is in progress.

Trail, Frances
Michigan State University
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