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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Lab of Kenneth A. Voss
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Ph: (706) 546-3315
FAX: (706) 546-3116

Ph.D. University of Wisconsin, Pathology
B.S.  Tulane University, Biology

The main focus of my laboratory is the toxicology of fumonisins and other mycotoxins produced by Fusarium verticillioides and related fungi that are found in corn. Working together with other government, university and industry groups, we have directed most of our experiments toward two main objectives.

The first is to characterize the toxicology of fumonisins. This includes identifying "target organs", determining the type of injury caused in these organs, and evaluating dose-response. Current emphasis is on achieving a better understanding of the sequence of events connecting fumonisin-induced molecular events, intracellular and extracellular signaling pathways, and disease development in the liver and kidney, which are two major "target organs" in laboratory species. We have recently expanded our program to include investigations for revisiting the question of how F. verticillioides and fumonisins affect embryonic development.

Another aim is to determine how different cooking methods or other physical treatments affect mycotoxins and to identify those that safely reduce fumonisin concentrations in corn-based products. In this regard, we have studied nixtamalization, a widely used practice for making masa (used for making masa flour, tortillas, and corn chip products), and found that cooking the corn in water reduces its fumonisin content considerably. We are currently exploring the use of in vivo bioassays to determine the extent to which cooking and processing methods affect the biological activity of mycotoxins in food products.

Data from these studies of this type contribute to scientifically sound assessment of the potential risks to animals and man associated with Fusarium mycotoxins and to keeping their concentrations in feeds and foods at low, safe levels.

Lab Personnel



      Shawn Cunningham

      Biological Scientific Laboratory Technician

      Ph: (706) 546-3510





      Melinda Vongkunthong

      Biological Scientific Laboratory Technician


      Ph: (706) 546-3510











Selected Publications


Gelineau-van Waes, JB, Starr L, Maddox JR, Aleman F, Voss KA, Wilberding J, Riley RT. Maternal fumonisin exposure and risk for neural tube defects: mechanisms in an in vivo mouse model. Birth Defects Res. (Part A). in press.


Humpf H-U, Voss KA. Effects of food processing on the chemical structure and toxicity of fumonisin mycotoxins. Molecular Nutrition and Food Research 48:255-269, 2004.


Voss KA, Riley RT, Gelineau-van Waes J, Bacon CW. Fumonisins: toxicology, emerging issues, and prospects for detoxification. In: New Horizon of Mycotoxicology for Assuming Food Safety, Proceeding of the International Symposium of Mycotoxicology in Kagawa 2003, Ed. T. Yoshizawa, Bikohsha Co., Takamatsu, Japan, 2004, pp.41-48.


Marasas WFO, Riley RT, Hendricks KA, Stevens VL, Sadler TW, Gelineau-van Waes, J, Missner, SA, Cabrera J, Torres O, Gelderblom WCA, Allegood J, Martinez C, Maddox J, Miller JD, Starr L, Sullards MC, Victoria Roman V, Voss KA, Wang E, Merrill AH, Jr. 2004. Fumonisins disrupt sphingolipid metabolism, folate transport and development of neural crest cells in embryo culture and in vivo: A potential risk factor for human neural tube defects among populations consuming fumonisin-contaminated maize. Journal of Nutrition. 134:711-716, 2004.


Voss KA, Meredith FI, Bacon CW. Effect of baking and frying on the in vivo toxicity to rats of cornmeal containing fumonisins. J Agric Fd Chem 51:5546-51, 2003.


Dresden Osborne, C., Pittman Noblet G., Enongene E. N., Bacon C.W., Riley, R.T., & Voss, K.A. Host resistance to Trypanosoma cruzi infection is enhanced in mice fed Fusarium verticillioides (=F. moniliforme) culture material containing fumonisins. Fd Chem. Toxicol. 40:1789-1798, 2002.


Voss, K.A., Poling, S.M., Meredith, F.I., Bacon, C.W. & Saunders, D.S. Fate of Fumonisins during the production of fried tortilla chips. J. Agr. Food Chem., 49:3120-3126, 2001.

Last Modified: 9/1/2016
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