Mycotoxicology Newsletter

July 2003   Volume VII, No. 1


The 36-month progress reports of the European Mycotoxin Prevention Cluster were discussed in June 2003 in Uppsala, Sweden. Reports from three EC-funded workgroups in the Cluster are summarized below. Details can be accessed online at the following website:

The Fusarium Mycotoxins in Food Chain project reports several significant advances toward an HACCP system, including (1) expanding the database on Fusarium diseases in cereals; (2) identifying critical control points in the production of cornflakes and starch from maize; (3) using natural antagonists as pre-harvest biocontrol agents against head blight and other Fusarium diseases; (4) determining that certain essential oils and some antioxidants, such as resveratrol, inhibit Fusarium growth and mycotoxin production in harvested grain; and (5) determining the capacity of various mycotoxin-binding adsorbents to reduce gastrointestinal absorption of mycotoxins in livestock.

Studies by the Ochratoxin A (OTA) Prevention project have resulted in the following conclusions and recommendations: (1) The dominance of Penicillium verrucosum over other ochratoxin A–producing fungi associated with cereals may derive from its superior ability to thrive in substrates with water activity between 0.90 and 0.95, as well as its higher tolerance for CO2. (2) Recommended storage practices for grain silos should stress the importance of ensuring silos are properly ventilated at the top with appropriately designed systems such ventilation hoods and of installing temperature control systems, eliminating leaks, and carefully inspecting the top layer of grain for mold before unloading. (3) Certain antioxidants and essential oils have potential as effective mold controls. (4) A membrane based molecular imprinted polymer (MIP) biosensor has been developed and must be further refined to be used for analysis of grain extracts. (5) An ELISA assay and the competitive lateral flow device (LFD) for Penicillium verrucosum and Aspergillus ochraceus have been developed and show promise as rapid testing methods.

In the course of their ongoing research into the early detection and prevention of toxigenic Fusarium and ochratoxigenic fungi, the Detox-Fungi group has (1) developed and validated a significant number of new PCR assays for trichothecene- and enniatinproducing Fusarium species, as well as other generic PCR-based assays for the detection of fumonisin and beauvericin-producing species; (2) identified molecular markers for the characterization of ochratoxin A–producing species of Aspergillus and Penicillium; (3) developed a specific Real Time PCR system for the quantification of Penicillium nordicum in food; and (4) developed new monoclonal antibodies for more sensitive detection of ochratoxin A in food and feed products.