Maize

Fusarium ear rot and related toxins

Fusarium species

Several Fusarium species are widespread pathogens of maize in temperate and semitropical areas, including all European maize-growing areas, and cause severe reductions in crop yield. In wheat, as in maize, these species may co-occur or follow one another in quick succession, and it is not uncommon to isolate several different species from a single infected kernel. In addition to the small number of toxigenic species that also are regarded as pathogenic, there are several less-pathogenic or opportunistic Fusarium species that also can produce considerable amounts of toxins both in preharvest infected plants and in stored grain. Thus, the toxigenic profile of a contaminated crop is determined not only by the pathogenic species present, but also by the co-occurring opportunistic species (Bottalico, 1998).

The incidence of Fusarium mycotoxins, e.g., deoxynivalenol and fumonisin Bj, in maize kernels probably exceeds 25% (Tables 1 and 2) (Charmley et al, 1995; Logrieco et al., 2002c). The relationship between the ecological distribution of Fusarium species and their relative my-cotoxin profiles can be used to predict which mycotoxins are most likely to be formed when conducive conditions such as tillage practices, host genotypes and environmental conditions occur.

Table 2. Cereal commodities contaminated by Fusarium mycotoxins in Europe (after SCOOP, 2003; participating countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and Sweden).

Toxin

Grain and feed/food (positive samples)

Trichothecenes - Type A

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