Christian Doppler Laboratory for Mycotoxin Metabolism
We aim to investigate the metabolism of mycotoxins by plants, microbes and animals. Despite huge research investment on mycotoxins (poisonous, low molecular weight, secondary metabolites of moulds), prevention and control remains difficult and the food industry continues to be vulnerable to problems of contamination. Continued research has led to some understanding of fungal metabolism, but has also highlighted the complexity of fungal/plant interactions and the fact that when analytical work is undertaken to monitor foods only a part of the total mycotoxins present is released and a significant fraction of bound or masked mycotoxins remains undetected. The toxicological fate of these substances is largely unknown. Recognising these significant gaps in current knowledge we aim to investigate the metabolism of mycotoxins by plants, microbes and animals, which form three integrated modules in our group. We concentrate our efforts on the Fusarium mycotoxins deoxynivalenol, zearalenone and fumonisin B1, as these compounds are significant contaminants of European cereal crops.
The first module establishes the extent of formation of bound mycotoxins in plant systems. The second module investigates microbial interactions with free and bound toxins with a view to identifying possible detoxification routes. The third module pursues animal feeding trials to establish the fate of bound toxins in vivo, as well as the effectiveness of detoxification strategies.