Submitted to: Handbook of Fungal Biotechnology
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/1/2002
Publication Date: 2/1/2004
Citation: Brown, R.L., Chen, Z.-Y., Bhatnagar, D., Cleveland, T.E. 2004. Molecular biology for control of mycotoxigenic fungi. In: Arora, D., Bridge, P., Bhatnagar, D., editors. Fungal Biotechnology in Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Applications. New York, NY: Marcel Dekker, Inc. p. 69-77.
Interpretive Summary: Several fungi produce poisonous substances called mycotoxins when they infect crops such as corn, cottonseed, peanuts, and tree nuts. This prevents these commodities from being used commercially. Current management practices may reduce, but cannot eliminate mycotoxins from foods and feeds. The best strategy for controlling mycotoxin contamination is to develop crops that have preharvest resistance to this problem. A great deal of research has been accomplished using molecular-based technologies that enhance the preharvest resistance strategy for controlling mycotoxin contamination. Successful deployment of these technologies could lead to the production of commercially-useful crops with mycotoxin resistance. This could save growers millions of dollars annually and enhance the safety of food supplies.
Technical Abstract: Mycotoxins are fungal metabolites that can contaminate foods and feeds, and exhibit toxic effects in higher organisms that consume the contaminated commodities. Mycotoxin contamination of foods and feeds is a serious food safety problem affecting the competitiveness of U.S. agriculture, both domestically and worldwide. Maintaining good cultural and management practices that promote the general health of crops can reduce, but not eliminate preharvest mycotoxin contamination. Also, optimization of management practices to control mycotoxins is not always possible due to production costs, geographic location, or the nature of the production system for the particular crop vulnerable to mycotoxins. In addition, even the best management practices are sometimes negated by biotic and abiotic factors that are hard to control and by extremes in environmental conditions. The complex epidemiology of A. flavus on corn can drastically affect the outcome of measures to control aflatoxin contamination on this crop. Therefore, there is an urgent need for development and utilization of strategies involving state-of-the-art technologies to control preharvest mycotoxin contamination. The current article highlights recently published and high-impact research involving molecular-based technologies that have been accomplished and that enhance a host plant resistance strategy for controlling mycotoxin contamination. These technologies include the use of fungal transformants containing GUS or GFP reporter constructs, proteomics, QTL mapping, marker-assisted breeding, or genetic engineering.