Special Issue "Mycotoxins in Food: Origin and Management of Risk"

A special issue of Toxins (ISSN 2072-6651). This special issue belongs to the section "Mycotoxins".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Antonia Susca
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
Institute of Science of Food Production (ISPA), National Research Council (CNR), Via Amendola 122/O, 70126 Bari (BA), Italy
Interests: mycotoxin producing fungi; molecular diagnostics of mycotoxigenic fungi; mycotoxin biosynthetic genes (OTA, FBs, BEA)
Dr. Antonio Moretti
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
Affiliation: Institute of Science of Food Production (ISPA), National Research Council (CNR), Via Amendola 122/O, 70126 Bari (BA), Italy
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The reduction of mycotoxin occurrence in the food chain is a primary goal for all scientists researching mycotoxins. However, this aim requires a full understanding of the sources and routes of contamination, as well as inspection and detection accuracy.

Many strategies to prevent mycotoxin contamination of food and animal feed have been developed, both in the field as well as during storage. The use of pre-harvest control strategies (such as resistant/tolerant varieties, crop rotation, biological and chemical agents, harvest time management) and post-harvest applications (including improved drying and storage conditions, use of natural and chemical agents and irradiation) are all important factors in the prevention of mycotoxigenic mold growth and mycotoxin formation in  food commodities.

Moreover, since environmental parameters profoundly affect the growth, distribution, and mycotoxin production in fungi, climate change is a new and current issue in the topic of mycotoxins, since new mycotoxin–commodity–geographical area combinations need to be investigated.

This Special Issue will focus on the monitoring and identification of mycotoxin-producing species in different crops; evidence for the emergence of new fungal genotypes with higher levels of aggressiveness and altered mycotoxin production; improving the inspection and analysis of mycotoxins in foods and feeds; developing methods that are more rapid, precise, sensitive, selective, and inexpensive; and combining control methods to yield effective strategies for prevention/reduction of mycotoxin contamination both in the field and/or during storage.

Moreover, new mycotoxin–host plant–geographical area combinations will be considered as they can direct the attention of the scientific community toward new diagnostic tools and deeper knowledge of both the biology and genetics of toxigenic fungi.

Dr. Antonia Susca
Dr. Antonio Moretti
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • mycotoxins
  • analytical methods
  • fungal biodiversity
  • fungal monitoring
  • genomics
  • metabolomics
  • pathogenicity
  • control
  • GAPs

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Natural Occurrence of Mycotoxin-Producing Fusaria in Market-Bought Peruvian Cereals: A Food Safety Threat for Andean Populations
Toxins 2021, 13(2), 172; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020172 - 23 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 762
Abstract
Consumption of cereals contaminated by mycotoxins poses health risks. For instance, Fumonisins B, mainly produced by Fusarium verticillioides and Fusariumproliferatum, and the type B trichothecene deoxynivalenol, typically produced by Fusarium graminearum, are highly prevalent on cereal grains that are staples of [...] Read more.
Consumption of cereals contaminated by mycotoxins poses health risks. For instance, Fumonisins B, mainly produced by Fusarium verticillioides and Fusariumproliferatum, and the type B trichothecene deoxynivalenol, typically produced by Fusarium graminearum, are highly prevalent on cereal grains that are staples of many cultural diets and known to represent a toxic risk hazard. In Peru, corn and other cereals are frequently consumed on a daily basis under various forms, the majority of food grains being sold through traditional markets for direct consumption. Here, we surveyed mycotoxin contents of market-bought grain samples in order to assess the threat these mycotoxins might represent to Peruvian population, with a focus on corn. We found that nearly one sample of Peruvian corn out of six was contaminated with very high levels of Fumonisins, levels mostly ascribed to the presence of F. verticillioides. Extensive profiling of Peruvian corn kernels for fungal contaminants could provide elements to refine the potential risk associated with Fusarium toxins and help define adapted food safety standards. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mycotoxins in Food: Origin and Management of Risk)
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Open AccessArticle
Molecular Identification and Mycotoxin Production by Alternaria Species Occurring on Durum Wheat, Showing Black Point Symptoms
Toxins 2020, 12(4), 275; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins12040275 - 23 Apr 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1058
Abstract
Black point is a fungal disease of wheat, mainly associated with mycotoxigenic Alternaria species. Affected wheat kernels are characterized by dark brown discolouration of the embryo region and reduction of grain quality. Potential risk is the possible accumulation of Alternaria mycotoxins, alternariol (AOH), [...] Read more.
Black point is a fungal disease of wheat, mainly associated with mycotoxigenic Alternaria species. Affected wheat kernels are characterized by dark brown discolouration of the embryo region and reduction of grain quality. Potential risk is the possible accumulation of Alternaria mycotoxins, alternariol (AOH), alternariol-monomethyl ether (AME), tenuazonic acid (TA), and altenuene (ALT), provided by haemato-toxic, genotoxic, and mutagenic activities. One hundred and twenty durum wheat samples belonging to 30 different genotypes grown in Bologna and Modena areas, in Italy, showing black point symptoms, were analyzed for Alternaria species and their mycotoxin contamination. Alternariol was selected as an indicator of the capability of the Alternaria species to produce mycotoxin in vivo in field conditions. The data showed that Alternaria species occurred in 118 out of 120 wheat kernels samples, with the incidence of infected kernels ranging between 1% and 26%. Moreover, AOH was detected by using a HPLC with a diode array detector (LC-DAD) in 98 out of 120 samples with values ranging between 24 and 262 µg Kg−1. Ninety-two Alternaria representative strains, previously identified morphologically, were identified at species/section level using gene sequencing, and therefore were analyzed for their mycotoxin profiles. Eighty-four strains, phylogenetically grouped in the Alternaria section, produced AOH, AME, and TA with values up to 8064, 14,341, and 3683 µg g−1, respectively, analyzed by using a LC-DAD. On the other hand, eight Alternaria strains, included in Infectoriae Section, showed a very low or no capability to produce mycotoxins. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mycotoxins in Food: Origin and Management of Risk)
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Open AccessArticle
An In Silico Target Fishing Approach to Identify Novel Ochratoxin A Hydrolyzing Enzyme
Toxins 2020, 12(4), 258; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins12040258 - 16 Apr 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1073
Abstract
Ochratoxin A (OTA), a mycotoxin that is of utmost concern in food and feed safety, is produced by fungal species that mainly belong to the Aspergillus and Penicillium genera. The development of mitigation strategies to reduce OTA content along the supply chains is [...] Read more.
Ochratoxin A (OTA), a mycotoxin that is of utmost concern in food and feed safety, is produced by fungal species that mainly belong to the Aspergillus and Penicillium genera. The development of mitigation strategies to reduce OTA content along the supply chains is key to ensuring safer production of food and feed. Enzyme-based strategies are among the most promising methods due to their specificity, efficacy, and multi-situ applicability. In particular, some enzymes are already known for hydrolyzing OTA into ochratoxin alpha (OTα) and phenylalanine (Phe), eventually resulting in detoxification action. Therefore, the discovery of novel OTA hydrolyzing enzymes, along with the advancement of an innovative approach for their identification, could provide a broader basis to develop more effective mitigating strategies in the future. In the present study, a hybrid in silico/in vitro workflow coupling virtual screening with enzymatic assays was applied in order to identify novel OTA hydrolyzing enzymes. Among the various hits, porcine carboxypeptidase B was identified for the first time as an effective OTA hydrolyzing enzyme. The successful experimental endorsement of findings of the workflow confirms that the presented strategy is suitable for identifying novel OTA hydrolyzing enzymes, and it might be relevant for the discovery of other mycotoxin- mitigating enzymes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mycotoxins in Food: Origin and Management of Risk)
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Open AccessArticle
Isolation, Molecular Identification, and Mycotoxin Production of Aspergillus Species Isolated from the Rhizosphere of Sugarcane in the South of Iran
Toxins 2020, 12(2), 122; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins12020122 - 14 Feb 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1055
Abstract
Knowledge of the genetic diversity detected among fungal species belonging to the genus Aspergillus is of key importance for explaining their important ecological role in the environment and agriculture. The current study aimed to identify Aspergillus species occurring in the rhizosphere of sugarcane [...] Read more.
Knowledge of the genetic diversity detected among fungal species belonging to the genus Aspergillus is of key importance for explaining their important ecological role in the environment and agriculture. The current study aimed to identify Aspergillus species occurring in the rhizosphere of sugarcane in the South of Iran, and to investigate their mycotoxin profiles. One-hundred and twenty-five Aspergillus strains were isolated from the soil of eight major sugarcane-producing sites, and were molecularly identified using sequences of partial -tubulin (benA) and partial calmodulin (CaM) genes. Our molecular and phylogenetic results showed that around 70% of strains belonged to the Aspergillus section Nigri, and around 25% of species belonged to the Aspergillus section Terrei. Species belonging to both sections are able to produce different mycotoxins. The production of mycotoxins was measured for each species, according to their known mycotoxin profile: patulin (PAT) and sterigmatocystin (STG) for Aspergillus terreus; ochratoxin A (OTA) and fumonisins for Aspergillus welwitschiae; and OTA alone for Aspergillus tubingensis. The data showed that the production of OTA was detected in only 4 out of 10 strains of A. welwitschiae, while none of the A. tubingensis strains analyzed produced the mycotoxin. Fumonisins were produced by 8 out of 10 strains of A. welwitschiae. Finally, none of the 23 strains of A. terreus produced STG, while 13 of them produced PAT. The occurrence of such mycotoxigenic plant pathogens among the fungal community occurring in soil of sugarcane fields may represent a significant source of inoculum for the possible colonization of sugarcane plants, since the early stages of plant growth, due to the mycotoxin production capability, could have worrisome implications in terms of both the safety and loss of products at harvest. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mycotoxins in Food: Origin and Management of Risk)
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Open AccessArticle
A Polyphasic Approach to Compare the Genomic Profiles of Aflatoxigenic and Non-Aflatoxigenic Isolates of Aspergillus Section Flavi
Toxins 2020, 12(1), 56; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins12010056 - 16 Jan 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1229
Abstract
Aflatoxins (AF) are highly toxic compounds produced by Aspergillus section Flavi. They spoil food crops and present a serious global health hazard to humans and livestock. The aim of this study was to examine the phylogenetic relationships among aflatoxigenic and non-aflatoxigenic Aspergillus [...] Read more.
Aflatoxins (AF) are highly toxic compounds produced by Aspergillus section Flavi. They spoil food crops and present a serious global health hazard to humans and livestock. The aim of this study was to examine the phylogenetic relationships among aflatoxigenic and non-aflatoxigenic Aspergillus isolates. A polyphasic approach combining phylogenetic, sequence, and toxin analyses was applied to 40 Aspergillus section Flavi isolates collected from eight countries around the world (USA, Philippines, Egypt, India, Australia, Indonesia, China, and Uganda). This allows one to pinpoint the key genomic features that distinguish AF producing and non-producing isolates. Based on molecular identification, 32 (80%) were identified as A. flavus, three (7.5%) as A. parasiticus, three (7.5%) as A. nomius and one (2.5%) as A. tamarii. Toxin analysis showed that 22 (55%) Aspergillus isolates were aflatoxigenic. The majority of the toxic isolates (62.5%) originated from Egypt. The highest aflatoxin production potential was observed in an A. nomius isolate which is originally isolated from the Philippines. DNA-based molecular markers such as random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) and inter-simple sequence repeats (ISSR) were used to evaluate the genetic diversity and phylogenetic relationships among these 40 Aspergillus isolates, which were originally selected from 80 isolates. The percentage of polymorphic bands in three RAPD and three ISSR primers was 81.9% and 79.37%, respectively. Analysis of molecular variance showed significant diversity within the populations, 92% for RAPD and 85% for ISSR primers. The average of Polymorphism Information Content (PIC), Marker Index (MI), Nei’s gene diversity (H) and Shannon’s diversity index (I) in ISSR markers are higher than those in RAPD markers. Based on banding patterns and gene diversities values, we observed that the ISSR-PCR provides clearer data and is more successful in genetic diversity analyses than RAPD-PCR. Dendrograms generated from UPGMA (Unweighted Pair Group Method with Arithmetic Mean) cluster analyses for RAPD and ISSR markers were related to the geographic origin. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mycotoxins in Food: Origin and Management of Risk)
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Open AccessArticle
Knowledge, Attitude and Practice of Malawian Farmers on Pre- and Post-Harvest Crop Management to Mitigate Aflatoxin Contamination in Groundnut, Maize and Sorghum—Implication for Behavioral Change
Toxins 2019, 11(12), 716; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins11120716 - 09 Dec 2019
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1890
Abstract
A knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP) study was conducted in three districts of Malawi to test whether the training had resulted in increased knowledge and adoption of recommended pre- and post-harvest crop management practices, and their contribution to reducing aflatoxin contamination in groundnut, [...] Read more.
A knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP) study was conducted in three districts of Malawi to test whether the training had resulted in increased knowledge and adoption of recommended pre- and post-harvest crop management practices, and their contribution to reducing aflatoxin contamination in groundnut, maize and sorghum. The study was conducted with 900 farmers at the baseline and 624 farmers at the end-line, while 726 and 696 harvested crop samples were collected for aflatoxin testing at the baseline and end-line, respectively. Results show that the knowledge and practice of pre- and post-harvest crop management for mitigating aflatoxin were inadequate among the farmers at the baseline but somewhat improved after the training as shown at the end-line. As a result, despite unfavorable weather, the mean aflatoxin contamination level in their grain samples decreased from 83.6 to 55.8 ppb (p < 0.001). However, it was also noted that increased knowledge did not significantly change farmers’ attitude toward not consuming grade-outs because of economic incentive incompatibility, leaving potential for improving the practices further. This existing gap in the adoption of aflatoxin mitigation practices calls for approaches that take into account farmers’ needs and incentives to attain sustainable behavioral change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mycotoxins in Food: Origin and Management of Risk)
Open AccessArticle
Mycotoxin Dietary Exposure Assessment through Fruit Juices Consumption in Children and Adult Population
Toxins 2019, 11(12), 684; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins11120684 - 22 Nov 2019
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1488
Abstract
Consumption of fruit juice is becoming trendy for consumers seeking freshness and high vitamin and low caloric intake. Mycotoxigenic moulds may infect fruits during crop growth, harvest, and storage leading to mycotoxin production. Many mycotoxins are resistant to food processing, which make their [...] Read more.
Consumption of fruit juice is becoming trendy for consumers seeking freshness and high vitamin and low caloric intake. Mycotoxigenic moulds may infect fruits during crop growth, harvest, and storage leading to mycotoxin production. Many mycotoxins are resistant to food processing, which make their presence in the final juice product very likely expected. In this way, the presence of 30 mycotoxins including aflatoxin B1 (AFB1), aflatoxin B2 (AFB2), aflatoxin G1 (AFG1), aflatoxin G2 (AFG2), alternariol (AOH), alternariol monomethyl ether (AME), Ochratoxin A (OTA), fumonisin B1 (FB1), fumonisin B2 (FB2), enniatin A (ENNA), enniatin A1 (ENNA1), enniatin B (ENNB), enniatin B1 (ENNB1), beauvericin (BEA), sterigmatocystin (STG), zearalenone (ZEA), α-zearalanol (α-ZAL), β-zearalanol (β-ZAL), α-zearalenol (α-ZOL), β-zearalenol (β-ZOL), deoxynivalenol (DON), 3-acetyl-deoxynivalenol (3-ADON), 15-acetyl-deoxynivalenol (15-ADON), diacetoxyscirpenol (DAS), nivalenol (NIV), fusarenon-X (FUS-X), neosolaniol (NEO), patulin (PAT), T-2 toxin and HT-2 toxin was evaluated in 80 juice samples collected from Valencia retail Market. An efficient Dispersive Liquid-Liquid Microextraction method (DLLME) was carried out before their trace level determination by chromatographic techniques coupled to tandem mass spectrometry. The results obtained revealed the presence of nine mycotoxins namely AOH, AME, PAT, OTA, AFB1, AFB2, AFG2, β-ZAL, and HT2 in the analyzed samples, with incidences ranging from 3 to 29% and mean contents between 0.14 and 59.52 µg/L. Considerable percentages of TDIs were reached by children when 200 mL was considered as daily fruit juice intake. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mycotoxins in Food: Origin and Management of Risk)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Pre-Harvest Modelling and Mitigation of Aflatoxins in Maize in a Changing Climatic Environment—A Review
Toxins 2020, 12(12), 768; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins12120768 - 04 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 525
Abstract
Aflatoxins (AFs) are harmful secondary metabolites produced by various moulds, among which Aspergillus flavus is the major AF-producer fungus. These mycotoxins have carcinogenic or acute toxigenic effects on both humans and food producing animals and, therefore, the health risks and also the potential [...] Read more.
Aflatoxins (AFs) are harmful secondary metabolites produced by various moulds, among which Aspergillus flavus is the major AF-producer fungus. These mycotoxins have carcinogenic or acute toxigenic effects on both humans and food producing animals and, therefore, the health risks and also the potential economic damages mounted by them have led to legal restrictions, and several countries have set maximum allowable limits for AF contaminations in food and feed. While colonization of food and feed and AF production by A. flavus are highly supported by the climatic conditions in tropical and subtropical geographic regions, countries in the temperate climate zones are also increasingly exposed to AF-derived health risks due to climate change. In the present study, we have reviewed the available mathematical models as risk assessment tools to predict the possibility of A. flavus infection and levels of AF contaminations in maize in a changing climatic environment. After highlighting the benefits and possible future improvements of these models, we summarize the current agricultural practices used to prevent or, at least, mitigate the deleterious consequences of AF contaminations Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mycotoxins in Food: Origin and Management of Risk)
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