Submitted to: Journal of Toxicology Toxins Reviews
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/29/2008
Publication Date: 11/3/2008
Citation: Cary, J.W., Calvo, A.M. 2008. Regulation of Aspergillus Mycotoxin Biosynthesis. Toxins Reviews. 27(3):347-370.
Interpretive Summary: This review describes the body of work to date on the genetic mechanisms that are known to control the production of mycotoxins such as aflatoxin in the fungus Aspergillus. Aflatoxins are toxic and carcinogenic compounds often produced by the fungi, Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus, during growth on crops such as corn, peanuts, cottonseed, and treenuts. The described research also points out that certain growth phases of the fungus are related to the ability of the fungus to produce toxins. Because of the potential health risks, aflatoxin contamination of food and feed crops is also of great economic importance to farmers who cannot sell their crops due to strict domestic and international regulatory guidelines with regards to aflatoxin contamination.
Technical Abstract: The genus Aspergillus produces a number of mycotoxins that pose adverse economic and health impacts on humans and animals. These include the toxic and carcinogenic polyketide-derived mycotoxins, sterigmatocystin and aflatoxins, produced by Aspergillus nidulans and Aspergillus flavus, respectively. Studies have identified the gene clusters that are responsible for the synthesis of these toxins however there is still much to be elucidated regarding the signal transduction pathways and globally-acting regulators that control production of these toxins during fungal contamination of crops. In many cases, the mechanisms by which the fungus responds to environmental and plant-based factors have been found to not only control toxin production but also fungal growth and development.