Submitted to: World Mycotoxin Journal
Publication Type: Review article
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/6/2010
Publication Date: 2/15/2011
Citation: Wu, F., Bhatnagar, D., Bui-Klimke, T., Carbone, I., Hellmich II, R.L., Munkvold, G., Paul, P., Payne, G., Takle, E. 2011. Climate change impacts on mycotoxin risks in US maize. World Mycotoxin Journal. 4(1):79-93. Interpretive Summary: Fungally produced mycotoxins such as the aflatoxins, trichothecenes, and fumonisins account annually for hundreds of millions of dollar equivalents (internationally) of crop losses, as well as loss of health and human life across the world, thus affecting world health, trade and food security on a global basis. Also of concern is the connection between a lack of food security and social unrest across the world. Thirty countries experienced food-related riots in 2008, half in Africa. Elimination of mycotoxin concerns through application of innovative research solutions could prevent food losses, unsafe food grains, and losses in human life as threats to world food security. There are strong connections between environmental conditions and occurrence of mycotoxins in world crops. Apparent global climate changes, particularly warming, are implicated in promoting mycotoxin contamination increases in certain regions of the world. Not enough is known about the effects of environmental stresses on mycotoxin contamination in world crops or in predicting environmental conditions conducive to outbreaks of mycotoxin contamination of crops. The most convincing body of research suggests that environmental stress such as high night time heat and drought promote elevated levels of aflatoxin in corn.
Technical Abstract: To ensure future food security, it is crucial to understand how potential climate change scenarios will affect agriculture. One key area of interest is how climatic factors, both in the near- and the long-term future, could affect fungal infection of crops and mycotoxin production by these fungi. This paper provides background on recent climate change analyses that pertain to agriculture, and in particular to mycotoxigenic fungi with respect to the climatic factors – temperature and relative humidity (RH) – at which they thrive and cause severe damage. We focus specifically on mycotoxin-related risks in US maize that may emerge in the near future resulting from different climate scenarios. Additionally, we discuss how climate change will alter the life cycles and geographic distribution of insects that are known to facilitate fungal infection of crops.