Submitted to: Encyclopedia of Life Sciences
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: January 28, 2011
Publication Date: April 15, 2011
Citation: Ehrlich, K., Chang, P.-K., Bhatnagar, D. 2011. Mycotoxins. Encyclopedia of Life Sciences. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [DOI:10.1002/9780470015902.a0000373.pub2]. Technical Abstract: Mycotoxins are toxic chemicals produced in plant tissues after infection of the plant with certain molds. They are found in almost all crops and are of particular concern for animal and human health. This review summarizes current knowledge about the most important types of mycotoxins of most concern in agricultural crops. These fall into several classes called: polyketides, non-ribosomal peptides, indole alkaloids, and terpenoids depending on which precursor chemical the fungus uses when it makes the toxic compound. Some of the toxic compounds considered in detail in the review are the aflatoxins, the fumonisins, trichothecenes, ergot alkaloids and compounds that cause neurological effects. Discussion of what is known about how the fungus makes the toxin is presented as well as speculation concerning why fungi make the toxins.