A Dutch field survey on fungal infection and mycotoxin concentrations in maize

E D Van Asselt, W Azambuja, A Moretti, P Kastelein, T C De Rijk, I Stratakou, H J Van Der Fels-Klerx
Food Additives & Contaminants. Part A, Chemistry, Analysis, Control, Exposure & Risk Assessment 2012, 29 (10): 1556-65
Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites produced by fungi that can cause adverse health effects. Due to climate change, temperatures are expected to rise and changes in rainfall patterns are foreseen. These developments may increase fungal occurrence and mycotoxin concentrations in maize. It is therefore useful to monitor mycotoxin levels in maize and record the accompanying agronomic factors and weather parameters. This paper describes a field survey in the Netherlands in which information on soil, cultivar, green manure, tillage as well as sowing, emergence, flowering and harvest dates of silage maize were collected from 148 growers. A small number of these growers (42 in total) were visited to collect maize samples revealing that 50% of the samples were contaminated with Fusarium species and mycotoxins were detected in 25% of the samples. The Fusarium species that was most commonly found was F. crookwellense followed by F. graminearum, F. culmorum, F. sporotrichiodes and F. equiseti. In total 31 mycotoxins were analysed. The predominant mycotoxins present were (sum of 3 and 15)-acetyl-DON and nivalenol; other mycotoxins found were alternariol, beauvericin, deoxynivalenol, diacetoxyscirpenol, moniliformin and zearalenone. Nivalenol was present in concentrations up to 1670 µg kg⁻¹ and acetylated DON was usually present at higher concentrations than DON. Statistical analysis of the current data showed no correlation between mycotoxins present and agronomic factors recorded. Field studies as described in this paper are useful and need to be continued in the future in order to observe trends in mycotoxin occurrence.

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