Working group Toxinology
Toxinology is the area of science that deals with natural toxins (biotoxins), including their chemistry, mode of action, ecological roles and interaction with life forms. Our working group studies in particular toxic fungal metabolites (mycotoxins), their metabolisation in plants, toxicokinetics and detoxification.
Central to our work is the development and application of liquid chromatography – mass spectrometry (LC-MS) based methods to determine biomarkers. Biomarkers are objective, quantifiable characteristics of biological processes, medical states or exposure, which can be measured accurately and reproducibly.
Biomarkers allow to e.g.
- assess the exposure to and uptake of compounds of interest by a given individual
- conduct epidemiological studies to correlate toxin intake with potentially associated diseases
- study the metabolism of compounds as part of toxicokinetic studies
- assess the toxicity of metabolites (e.g. modified mycotoxins)
- investigate the efficacy of detoxifiers (e.g. feed additives)
- determine fluctuations in individual detoxification of certain compounds
- describe the state of health of a given individual for a specific illness
We use targeted and untargeted LC-MS(/MS) approaches to detect, characterize and quantify known and novel metabolites. Toxinology is an incredibly interdisciplinary field of science with strong links to analytical chemistry, biochemistry, bioinformatics, medicine, microbiology, molecular biology, pharmacy, toxicology and veterinary medicine. In our case additional links are established to mycology and various plant sciences at the BOKU campus Tulln and abroad.
Current Research Projects
In our research projects, we investigate the metabolization of mycotoxins by plants and animals. We investigate the bioavailability of masked mycotoxins and evaluate their toxicity in comparison to free, unmodified fungal toxins. Furthermore, we are developing analytical methods to determine the metabolome of farm animals and to identify biomarkers, especially for the intestinal health of livestock.
Short descriptions of all ongoing projects can be accessed from the research portal of the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU).