Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Zearalenone: Mycotoxin produced by Fusarium

Mycotoxins are natural, secondary metabolites produced by various fungi species. These compounds are significantly different from most synthetic food contaminants (e.g., residues of veterinary drugs, pesticides, and environmental contamination); their presence in food is almost unavoidable and depends strongly on climatic conditions, control of which is difficult or even impossible.

Mycotoxin Zearalenone, a secondary metabolite with estrogenic properties, is produced by several Fusarium species that colonize cereal grains in the field and in storage.

Several Fusarium species can infect small grain cereals (wheat, barley and oat) and maize; the predominant species can vary according to crop species involved, geographic region and environmental conditions. It is commonly found in maize but can be found also in other crops such as wheat, barley, sorghum and rye.

Seed grain infected with fungi is of poorer quality and has lower yield, so the economic consequences may be significant: it is estimated that approximately 25% of global cereal production and approximately 20% of global plant production may be contaminated with mycotoxins, although the contamination level may vary significantly depending on local weather conditions.

Zearalenone, a phenolic resorcylic acid lactone, is a mycotoxin that may occur in the form of four hydroxyl derivatives. Zearalenone is of major interest because despite its low acute toxicity, it has proven to be hepatotoxic, immunotoxic, and carcinogenic to a number of mammalian species. Zearalenone is mainly produced by F. graminearum, F. culmorum, F. cerealis, F. equiseti and F. semitectum,and the contamination often co-occurs with deoxynivalenol.

Zearalenone toxicity arises form their chemical structure, which allows coupling to the oestrogen receptor and exerts a strong influence on the reproductive systems of numerous animal species.

Maize has been the cereal grain most often implicated in cases of hyperestrogenism in farm animals, particularly swine. Zearalenone has been detected in such maize from Canada, England, France, Russia, United States, and Yugoslavia.
Zearalenone: Mycotoxin produced by Fusarium

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