Biologically based methods for control of fumonisin-producing fusarium species and reduction of the fumonisins

22 Jun 2017

Infection by the fumonisin-producing Fusarium spp. and subsequent fumonisin contamination of maize adversely affect international trade and economy with deleterious effects on human and animal health. In developed countries high standards of the major food suppliers and retailers are upheld and regulatory controls deter the importation and local marketing of fumonisin-contaminated food products. In developing countries regulatory measures are either lacking or poorly enforced, due to food insecurity, resulting in an increased mycotoxin exposure. The lack and poor accessibility of effective and environmentally safe control methods have led to an increased interest in practical and biological alternatives to reduce fumonisin intake. These include the application of natural resources, including plants, microbial cultures, genetic material thereof, or clay minerals pre- and post-harvest. Pre-harvest approaches include breeding for resistant maize cultivars, introduction of biocontrol microorganisms, application of phenolic plant extracts, and expression of antifungal proteins and fumonisin degrading enzymes in transgenic maize cultivars. Post-harvest approaches include the removal of fumonisins by natural clay adsorbents and enzymatic degradation of fumonisins through decarboxylation and deamination by recombinant carboxylesterase and aminotransferase enzymes. Although, the knowledge base on biological control methods has expanded, only a limited number of authorized decontamination products and methods are commercially available. As many studies detailed the use of natural compounds in vitro, concepts in reducing fumonisin contamination should be developed further for application in planta and in the field pre-harvest, post-harvest, and during storage and food-processing. In developed countries an integrated approach, involving good agricultural management practices, hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) production, and storage management, together with selected biologically based treatments, mild chemical and physical treatments could reduce fumonisin contamination effectively. In rural subsistence farming communities, simple, practical, and culturally acceptable hand-sorting, maize kernel washing, and dehulling intervention methods proved to be effective as a last line of defense for reducing fumonisin exposure. Biologically based methods for control of fumonisin-producing Fusarium spp. and decontamination of the fumonisins could have potential commercial application, while simple and practical intervention strategies could also impact positively on food safety and security, especially in rural populations reliant on maize as a dietary staple.