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Competency Area 3: Management of Infectious Plant Diseases

PO 24. Define ‘mycotoxin’ and be acquainted with specific mycotoxins: aflatoxins, deoxynivalenol, zearalenone, fumonisins, ochratoxin.

Mycotoxin is a general term for a poison produced by a fungus that is harmful to humans and/or animals. Only certain strains of certain fungi produce mycotoxins, and only under certainenvironmental conditions. Corn and small grain cereals are especially prone to accumulate mycotoxinsin their seed tissues, although the stem (stover) fraction of these crops may also be invaded by toxin-producingmolds. Molds may continue to grow and produce toxins in stored commodities underaerobic, high moisture conditions. However our most prevalent problems in the Northeast have beenwith mycotoxins produced in standing crops prior to harvest. Mycotoxins are only problematic whenthey occur in commodities and feeds above levels of concern established for individual animal species.Mycotoxin contamination is measured in parts per million (ppm) and parts per billion (ppb).

Produced by the fungus Aspergillus flavus, a golden-colored mold; cause liver damage and cancer; tolerances set by U.S. Food and Drug Administration for levels of contamination allowed in milk and other food commodities. Not commonly found in commodities produced in the Northeast but are found in commodities produced in warmer growing regions and shipped to the Northeast.

Deoxynivalenol (vomitoxin):
Produced by certain species of the fungus Fusarium (Gibberella), a pink to red-colored mold; cause feed refusal, vomiting, and digestive disorders in swine, dogs, and other species with simple stomachs; chronic symptoms include loss of productivity and lowered immunity; poultry and ruminant animals are less sensitive. USDA recommends less than 1 ppm deoxynivalenol in finished food products and less than 2 ppm in unmilled grain destined for human consumption.It occurs commonly in wheat, barley, and corn grain and silage produced in the Northeast.

Produced by certain species of the fungus Fusarium (Gibberella), a pink to red-colored mold; an estrogenic compound that causes reproductive disorders in swine and other species. It occurs commonly in corn grain and silage in the Northeast.

Produced by certain species of the fungus Fusarium, a whitish-colored mold, and differing from the species that produce deoxynivalenol and zearalenone; cause a fatal brain disease in horses, lung damage in swine, liver damage in several animals, and linked to human esophageal cancer. Occur commonly in corn grain in the Northeast but at fairly low levels. Occur at higher levels in corn produced in warmer regions.

Produced mainly by the fungus Penicillium, a blue to green-colored mold, and produced mainly under poor storage conditions rather than in a standing crop; cause damage to the liver and kidneys. Found occasionally in stored commodities in the Northeast.