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Mycotoxins: Biosecurity and Food Safety (NC129)


The first objective is to develop data for use in risk assessment of mycotoxins in human and animal health. <P>
The second objective is to develop new techniques and improve current assays to identify and measure mycotoxins and mycotoxigenic fungi in cereal grains. <P>The third objective is to establish integrated strategies to manage and to prevent mycotoxin contamination in cereal grains. <P>The last objective is to define the regulation of mycotoxin biosynthesis and the molecular relationships between mycotoxigenic fungi.

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NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: The mycotoxigenic fungi, most frequently members of the genera Aspergillus, Fusarium and Penicillium, are ubiquitous facultative pathogens that form intimate associations with grain and legume seed. Under certain ill-defined environmental conditions, the fungi will produce copious amounts of toxic, teratogenic and/or carcinogenic toxins in these living seed. At other times the fungi will colonize the seed but not produce mycotoxins. The major goal of this project is to pursue lines of research that will result in the reduction of mycotoxin contamination of food and feed products. Our research should provide novel targets for fungicide work as well as help identify plants resistant to mycotoxin formation.


APPROACH: Our research focuses on the last objective: molecular understanding of mycotoxin biosynthesis. We will focus on using the model fungus Aspergillus nidulans and the seed pathogen Aspergillus flavus. This work should be transferable to all fungi. <BR> Objective 1: Using molecular genetics, suppressor screens and biochemical assays, we are defining how the global regulator, LaeA, regulates mycotoxin formation and seed ingress in A. flavus. <BR> Objective 2: Examine (a) the mechanism by which oxygenase mutants affect mycotoxin production and (b) the possibility of using maize oxygenase mutants to reduce mycotoxin production during pathogenesis.

Keller, Nancy
University of Wisconsin - Madison
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