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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Biology and Toxicity of Claviceps and Related Fungi

Authors
item Kuldau, Gretchen
item Bacon, Charles

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: February 11, 2000
Publication Date: December 30, 2000

Interpretive Summary: Species of the fungus Claviceps parasitizes wheat, corn, rye, and other cereals. These fungi produce toxins in rye and wheat and toxicity to man dates back to the time of the Caesars and continue to ravage Europe until the Middle Ages. Toxicity caused by this group of fungi is referred to as ergotism and their toxins ergot alkaloids. Scientists at RRC discovered that other fungi within this family also produces identical toxins as Claviceps, and these includes Neotyphodium, the Balansia species and others that are parasitic on forage grasses. Thus the range of plants known to be toxic has been extended to include the important forage grasses. This one family of fungi imparts toxicity to livestock, poultry, and humans. Scientists at RRC were invited by the editors of the book Foodborne Disease Handbook to write a chapter on this group of fungi, including their toxicity. The review covers all the known species of Claviceps, and other ergot alkaloids producing fungi within the family. Toxicity of livestock, poultry, and man is described, as well as management strategies for preventing the growth of fungi and their toxins. The book is a multi-volume work intended to focus on all microbial toxins known to affect man and the environment.

Technical Abstract: Book Chapter in the Foodborne Disease Handbook, Vol. 3: Plant Toxicants, Hui, Y., Smith, J.T., and Spoerke, R.J., Eds., Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, NY.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014