* What are mycotoxins?
* “Mycotoxins (ie toxins produced by molds) are fungal metabolites that can contaminate foods and feeds and cause toxic effects in higher organisms that consume the contaminated commodities. Therefore, mycotoxin contamination of foods and feeds results is a serious food safety issue and affects the competitiveness of US agriculture in both domestic and export markets” (Cleveland T et al. 2003).
* Where do they occur?
* “If enough heat or moisture is produced, the environmental conditions may then be conducive for rapid growth to occur” (Diekman et al. 1992). * “Mold growth can be inhibited by maintaining the following conditions in the storage bin: 1) relative humidities < 7Oo/o, 2) moisture content of grains < 14%, 3) temperatures < -2.2"C, and 4) oxygen < .5 %”( Diekman et al. 1992).
* What devastation do they cause on the crops themselves? * Forage crops can develop a number of infections during growth, some of which can give rise to mycotoxins. * Alternaria has many strains, many of which produce mycotoxins. Alternaria molds most commonly are known to spoil fruits and vegetables. * A lot of research is being done since these fruits and vegetables are consumed frequently. Even at low quantities these mycotoxins can produce health problems. * What can they do to the wildlife around?
* Fungi that are present in straw and hay during the time of harvest can continue to grow even after it is harvested and stored. Hay being a main food source for many livestock animals puts them at risk to develop mycotoxins and other fungi. * Mark Diekman at Purdue University did a study focusing on the molds found in feed. “Molds themselves reduce the quality of grains. Their chemical substances, known as mycotoxins, cause the greatest loss to the animal industry” Said...