Submitted to: Foodborne Diseases
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/20/2006
Publication Date: 6/1/2008
Citation: Bennett, J.W., Kale, S., Yu, J. 2008. Aflatoxins: Background, Toxicology, and Molecular Biology.In: Simjee, S., editor. Infectious Disease: Foodborne Diseases. Totowa, NJ: Humana Press. 13:355-373. Interpretive Summary: Aflatoxins are toxic and cancer-inducing compounds produced by fungal mold, such as Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus. These compounds contaminate our food source such as corn, cotton, peanut, and tree nuts when the fungus infects crops. In this manuscript, the historical background information on aflatoxin research is reviewed.
Technical Abstract: Mycotoxins are mold poisons; aflatoxins are the best known and most widely studied mycotoxins. The contamination of foods and feeds with aflatoxin can have serious consequences for human and animal health. In general, aflatoxin exposure is most likely to occur in developing countries where food handling and storage processes are suboptimal, where malnutrition is widespread, and where few regulations exist to protect exposed populations. Fundamental studies on the genetics, biosynthesis, and molecular biology of aflatoxin producing fungi may offer insights into controlling this serious agricultural problem.