Molecular studies to identify the Fusarium species responsible for HT-2 and T-2 mycotoxins in UK oats

Simon G Edwards, Samuel M Imathiu, Rumiana V Ray, Matthew Back, Martin C Hare
International Journal of Food Microbiology 2012 May 15, 156 (2): 168-75
High levels of Fusarium mycotoxins HT-2 and T-2 have been detected in UK oats since surveys started in 2002. Fusarium langsethiae and the closely related species F. sporotrichioides have previously been associated with the contamination of cereals with type A trichothecenes HT-2 and T-2 in Nordic countries. Preliminary microbiological analysis of UK oat samples with high concentrations of HT-2 and T-2 detected and isolated F. langsethiae and F. poae but not the other type A trichothecene producing species F. sporotrichioides, F. sibiricum and F. armeniacum. Two hundred and forty oat flour samples with a known mycotoxin profile were selected from a previous four year study (2002-2005) to cover the full concentration range from below the limit of quantification (<20 μg/kg) to 9,990 μg/kg HT-2+T-2 combined. All samples were analysed for the DNA of F. langsethiae, F. poae and F. sporotrichioides based on previously published PCR assays. F. langsethiae was detectable in nearly all samples; F. poae was detected in 90% of samples whereas F. sporotrichioides was not detected in any sample. A real-time PCR assay was developed to quantify F. langsethiae DNA in plant material. The assay could quantify as low as 10(-4)ngF. langsethiae DNA/μl. Based on this assay and a previously published assay for F. poae, both species were quantified in the oat flour samples with known HT-2+T-2 content. Results showed a good regression (P<0.001, r(2)=0.60) between F. langsethiae DNA and HT-2+T-2 concentration. F. poae DNA concentration was not correlated to HT2+T2 concentration (P=0.448) but was weakly correlated to nivalenol concentration (P<0.001, r(2)=0.09). Multiple regression with F. langsethiae and F. poae DNA as explanatory variates identified that both F. langsethiae and F. poae DNA were highly significant (P<0.001) but F. poae DNA only accounted for an additional 4% of the variance and the estimate was negative, indicating that higher concentrations of F. poae DNA were correlated with slightly lower concentrations of HT2+T2 detected. A stronger regression (P<0.001, r(2)=0.77) between F. langsethiae DNA and HT-2+T-2 was obtained after extraction and quantification of DNA and mycotoxins from individual oat grains. The results from this study provide strong evidence that F. langsethiae is the primary, if not sole, fungus responsible for high HT-2 and T-2 in UK oats.

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