Submitted to: Aflatoxin Workshop
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/26/2001
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: The filamentous fungus Fusarium verticillioides is one of the most prevalent pathogens of maize worldwide. In most cases, the fungus is innocuous: it grows endophytically and can be detected in most maize in the U.S. But, under the right conditions, the fungus can turn pathogenic, causing significant ear or stalk rot. In addition, the fungus can make fumonisins, a family of mycotoxins that, after ingestion, can inflict serious toxicological effects to a variety of farm animals. Moreover, there is an epidemiological correlation between human esophageal cancer and the consumption of fumonisin-contaminated maize in regions of China and South Africa. The best strategy to keep fumonisins from entering the food supply is to prevent them from being produced in the first place. Our research is focused on understanding, at the genetic and physiological levels, how fumonisin biosynthesis is initiated and regulated by the fungus in maize, as well as how fumonisin biosynthesis and fungal growth are influenced by maize itself.