Submitted to: International Journal of Food Microbiology
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/4/2013
Publication Date: 10/1/2013
Citation: Moretti, A., Susca, A., Mule, G., Logrieco, A.F., Proctor, R. 2013. Molecular biodiversity of mycotoxigenic fungi that threaten food safety. International Journal of Food Microbiology. 167(1):57-66. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Fungal biodiversity is one of the most important contributors to the occurrence and severity of mycotoxin contamination of crop plants. Phenotypic and metabolic plasticity has enabled mycotoxigenic fungi to colonize a broad range of agriculturally important crops and to adapt to a range of environmental conditions. New mycotoxin-commodity combinations provide evidence for the ability of fungi to adapt to changing conditions and the emergence of genotypes that confer enhanced aggressiveness toward plants and/or altered mycotoxin production profiles. Perhaps the most important contributor to qualitative differences in mycotoxin production among fungi is variation in mycotoxin biosynthetic genes. Molecular genetic and biochemical analyses of toxigenic fungi have elucidated specific differences in biosynthetic genes that are responsible for intra- and inter-specific differences in mycotoxin production. For Aspergillus and Fusarium, the mycotoxigenic genera of greatest concern, variation in biosynthetic genes responsible for production of individual families of mycotoxins appears to be the result of evolutionary adaptation. Examples of such variation have been reported for: a) aflatoxin biosynthetic genes in Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus; b) trichothecene biosynthetic genes within and among Fusarium species; and c) fumonisin biosynthetic genes in Aspergillus and Fusarium species. An understanding of variation in these biosynthetic genes and the basis for variation in mycotoxin production is important for accurate assessment of the risks that fungi pose to food safety and for prevention of mycotoxin contamination of crops in the field and in storage.