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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Mycotoxin Prevention and Applied Microbiology Research

Title: Microbial detoxification of mycotoxins

item Mccormick, Susan

Submitted to: Journal of Chemical Ecology
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/2/2013
Publication Date: 8/13/2013
Citation: McCormick, S.P. 2013. Microbial detoxification of mycotoxins. Journal of Chemical Ecology. 39(7):907-918.

Interpretive Summary: Mycotoxins are fungal toxins, produced in mold-infested grains, nuts, fruits, and other agricultural commodities, which adversely affect the health of vertebrate animals. Microbes that can break down mycotoxins have been found in soil, infected plants, and the intestines of animals. Enzymes from bacteria or fungi that degrade mycotoxins have been used in food and feed production. Genes for mycotoxin degradation have been engineered into plants to limit pre-harvest contamination of crops. This review describes microbial detoxification of aflatoxin, zearalenone, deoxynivalenol, patulin, fumonisin, and ochratoxin.

Technical Abstract: Mycotoxins are fungal natural products that are toxic to vertebrate animals. Microbes have been identified that enzymatically convert aflatoxin, zearalenone, ochratoxin, patulin, fumonisin, deoxynivalenol, and T-2 toxin to less toxic products. Mycotoxin-degrading fungi and bacteria have been isolated from agricultural soil, infested plant material, and animal digestive tracts. Biotransformation reactions include acetylation, glucosylation, ring cleavage, hydrolysis, deamination, and decarboxylation. Microbial mycotoxin degrading enzymes have been used to decontaminate agricultural commodities. Some detoxification genes have been expressed in plants to limit the pre-harvest production and phytotoxic effects of mycotoxins. Toxin-deficient mutants may be useful in assessing the role of mycotoxins in the ecology of the microorganisms.

Last Modified: 06/23/2017
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