Skip to main content
ARS Home » Midwest Area » Peoria, Illinois » National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research » Mycotoxin Prevention and Applied Microbiology Research » Research » Research Project #438643

Research Project: Innovative Approaches to Monitor, Predict, and Reduce Fungal Toxins

Location: Mycotoxin Prevention and Applied Microbiology Research

Project Number: 5010-42000-052-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Jan 5, 2021
End Date: Jan 4, 2026

The goals of this project are to reduce exposure to such toxins and to enhance food safety through the development of tools to more effectively monitor for natural toxins. The first goal will be addressed by development of materials capable of being used in the removal of toxins from foods, thereby reducing exposure. The second goal involves surveying one important commodity, oats; improving methods for toxin detection; and, in particular, developing methods to allow for the prediction of toxin contamination. To meet these goals, we have three objectives. Objective 1. Develop materials and methods to maintain commodity value and safety by eliminating mycotoxin contamination. Sub-objective 1.A. Develop antifungal compounds. Sub-objective 1.B. Remediation. Objective 2. Determine the occurrence of mycotoxins in alternative grain commodities, for example the U.S. oat supply. Determine the fungi and oat cultivars associated with reduced mycotoxin levels and/or disease. Sub-objective 2.A. Survey U.S. oats for mycotoxin contamination. Sub-objective 2.B. Survey U.S. oats for fungal contamination. Objective 3. Develop analytical tools to predict and evaluate the presence of natural toxins (mycotoxins) in grain commodities and their related foods. Sub-objective 3.A. Develop tools to predict the presence of toxins in commodities and foods. Sub-objective 3.B. Develop tools to detect emerging toxins, their metabolites and masked forms.

Food crops are commonly infested with fungi, both in the field and in storage. Certain fungi produce toxins (mycotoxins) that can adversely affect human health and the health of domestic animals. Certain toxin-binding materials may also have the potential to be used to remove toxins from foods, and this will be approached through the development and application of novel synthetic materials to reduce exposures. By permitting the timely diversion of contaminated ingredients from the food supply, detection of foodborne toxins can directly improve food safety and the safety of animal feed. Monitoring for the presence of such naturally occurring toxins is widespread and occurs at many of the stages between the producer and the consumer. Increasing the efficiency and improving the accuracy of monitoring results in more appropriate and efficient diversion of contaminated products. The need to monitor for greater numbers of mycotoxins is a trend that will continue, in particular because of recent concern over the so called “masked” mycotoxins. This project will put a particular focus on the food safety of a commodity important to U.S. consumers, oats. A survey of both toxin contamination and fungal contamination in U.S. oats will aid in the assurance of a safe supply of the key ingredient in human diets. Further, this project seeks to address the need for improved toxin detection by developing rapid detection methods leading to the prediction of toxin contamination in a variety of food / feed ingredients.