Submitted to: Fungal Biotechnology in Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Applications
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: September 1, 2002
Publication Date: March 1, 2004
Citation: Yu, J. 2004. Genetics and biochemistry of mycotoxin synthesis. In: Arora, D.K., editor. Fungal Biotechnology in Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Applications. New York, NY: Marcel Dekker, Inc. p. 343-361. Interpretive Summary: Mycotoxins are natural toxins produced by many species of fungi. These toxins contaminate our food and feed supplies in many crops such as corn, cotton, rice, wheat, etc. Better understanding the biochemical pathway and the mechanism of mycotoxin formation will provide necessary information for devising strategies to reduce mycotoxin contamination in food and feed.
Technical Abstract: Mycotoxins are low molecular weight secondary metabolites produced by fungi. These compounds are toxic, mutagenic, teratogenic, and carcinogenic to animals and humans. Over 300 mycotoxins have been identified, but only those implicated in mycotoxicoses involving humans have been studied in detail with respect to the biochemistry and genetics of their biosynthesis. Research on the natural occurrence, identification and characterization, biosynthesis and genetic regulatory control of mycotoxins, as well as prevention and control of mycotoxin contamination of food and feed gained momentum since the discovery of their toxic effects on human health. Within the last decade, significant progress toward the understanding of several mycotoxins in the world has been made. In this chapter, the genetics and biochemistry of only the most economically significant mycotoxins, aflatoxins, sterigmatocystin, trichothecenes, and fumonisins are summarized and discussed.