A mycotoxin is a toxic secondary metabolite produced by organisms of the fungus
A fungus is a member of a large group of eukaryotic organisms that includes microorganisms such as yeasts and molds , as well as the more familiar mushrooms. These organisms are classified as a kingdom, Fungi, which is separate from plants, animals, and bacteria...

 kingdom, commonly known as molds. The term ‘mycotoxin’ is usually reserved for the toxic chemical products produced by fungi that readily colonize crops. One mold species may produce many different mycotoxins and/or the same mycotoxin as another species.


Most fungi are aerobic
Aerobic organism
An aerobic organism or aerobe is an organism that can survive and grow in an oxygenated environment.Faculitative anaerobes grow and survive in an oxygenated environment and so do aerotolerant anaerobes.-Glucose:...

 (use oxygen) and are found almost everywhere in extremely small quantities due to the minute size of their spores. They consume organic matter wherever humidity
Humidity is a term for the amount of water vapor in the air, and can refer to any one of several measurements of humidity. Formally, humid air is not "moist air" but a mixture of water vapor and other constituents of air, and humidity is defined in terms of the water content of this mixture,...

 and temperature
Temperature is a physical property of matter that quantitatively expresses the common notions of hot and cold. Objects of low temperature are cold, while various degrees of higher temperatures are referred to as warm or hot...

 are sufficient. Where conditions are right, fungi proliferate
Cell growth
The term cell growth is used in the contexts of cell development and cell division . When used in the context of cell division, it refers to growth of cell populations, where one cell grows and divides to produce two "daughter cells"...

 into colonies
Colony (biology)
In biology, a colony reference to several individual organisms of the same species living closely together, usually for mutual benefit, such as stronger defense or the ability to attack bigger prey. Some insects live only in colonies...

 and mycotoxin levels become high. The reason for the production of mycotoxins is not yet known; they are necessary for neither growth nor the development of the fungi. Because mycotoxins weaken the receiving host, the fungus may use them as a strategy to better the environment for further fungal proliferation. The production of toxins depends on the surrounding intrinsic and extrinsic environments and the toxins vary greatly in their severity, depending on the organism infected and its susceptibility, metabolism, and defense mechanisms. Some of the health effects found in animals and humans include death, identifiable diseases or health problems, weakened immune systems without specificity to a toxin, and as allergens or irritants. Some mycotoxins are harmful to other micro-organisms such as other fungi or even bacteria; penicillin
Penicillin is a group of antibiotics derived from Penicillium fungi. They include penicillin G, procaine penicillin, benzathine penicillin, and penicillin V....

 is one example. It has been suggested that mycotoxins in stored animal feed are the cause of apparent sex change in hens.

Mycotoxins can appear in the food chain as a result of fungal infection of crop
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

s, either by being eaten directly by humans or by being used as livestock feed. Mycotoxins greatly resist decomposition or being broken down in digestion, so they remain in the food chain in meat and dairy products. Even temperature treatments, such as cooking and freezing, do not destroy mycotoxins.

Although various wild mushrooms contain an assortment of poisons that are definitely fungal metabolites causing noteworthy health problems for humans, they are rather arbitrarily excluded from discussions of mycotoxicology. In such cases the distinction is based on the size of the producing fungus and human intention. Mycotoxin exposure is almost always accidental whereas with mushrooms improper identification and ingestion causing mushroom poisoning
Mushroom poisoning
Mushroom poisoning refers to harmful effects from ingestion of toxic substances present in a mushroom. These symptoms can vary from slight gastrointestinal discomfort to death. The toxins present are secondary metabolites produced in specific biochemical pathways in the fungal cells...

 is commonly the case. Ingestion of misidentified mushrooms containing mycotoxins may result in hallucinations. The cyclopeptide-producing Amanita phalloide is well known for its toxic potential and is responsible for approximately 90% of all mushroom fatalities. The other primary mycotoxin groups found in mushrooms include: orellanine, monomethylhydrazine, disulfiram-like, hallucinogenic indoles, muscarinic, isoxazole, and gastrointestinal (GI)-specific irritants. The bulk of this article is about mycotoxins that are found in microfungi other than poisons from mushrooms or macroscopic fungi.

Many international agencies are trying to achieve universal standardization of regulatory limits for mycotoxins. Currently, over 100 countries have regulations regarding mycotoxins in the feed industry, in which 13 mycotoxins or groups of mycotoxins are of concern. The process of assessing a need for mycotoxin regulation includes a wide array of in-laboratory testing that includes extracting, clean-up and separation techniques. Most official regulations and control methods are based on high-performance liquid techniques (e.g., HPLC
High-performance liquid chromatography
High-performance liquid chromatography , HPLC, is a chromatographic technique that can separate a mixture of compounds and is used in biochemistry and analytical chemistry to identify, quantify and purify the individual components of the mixture.HPLC typically utilizes different types of stationary...

) through international bodies. It is implied that any regulations regarding these toxins will be in co-ordinance with any other countries with which a trade agreement exists. Many of the standards for the method performance analysis for mycotoxins is set by the European Committee for Standardization
European Committee for Standardization
The European Committee for Standardization or Comité Européen de Normalisation , is a non-profit organisation whose mission is to foster the European economy in global trading, the welfare of European citizens and the environment by providing an efficient infrastructure to interested parties for...

 (CEN). However, one must take note that scientific risk assessment is commonly influenced by culture and politics, which, in turn, will affect trade regulations of mycotoxins.

Food-based mycotoxins were studied extensively worldwide throughout the 20th century. In Europe, statutory levels of a range of mycotoxins permitted in food and animal feed are set by a range of European directives and Commission
European Commission
The European Commission is the executive body of the European Union. The body is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the Union's treaties and the general day-to-day running of the Union....

 regulations. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has regulated and enforced limits on concentrations of mycotoxins in foods and feed industries since 1985. It is through various compliance programs that the FDA monitors these industries to guarantee that mycotoxins are kept at a practical level. These compliance programs sample food products including peanuts and peanut products, tree nuts, corn and corn products, cottonseed, and milk. There is still a lack of sufficient surveillance data on some mycotoxins that occur in the U.S., which is due largely to the lack of reliable analytical methods.

Major groups

Aflatoxins are naturally occurring mycotoxins that are produced by many species of Aspergillus, a fungus, the most notable ones being Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. Aflatoxins are toxic and among the most carcinogenic substances known...

are a type of mycotoxin produced by Aspergillus
Aspergillus is a genus consisting of several hundred mold species found in various climates worldwide. Aspergillus was first catalogued in 1729 by the Italian priest and biologist Pier Antonio Micheli...

species of fungi, such as A. flavus
Aspergillus flavus
Aspergillus flavus is a fungus. It is a common mold in the environment, and can cause storage problems in stored grains. It can also be a human pathogen, associated with aspergillosis of the lungs and sometimes causing corneal, otomycotic, and nasoorbital infections. Many strains produce...

and A. parasiticus
Aspergillus parasiticus
Aspergillus parasiticus is a mold known to produce aflatoxin, although strains of it that do not produce this carcinogen exist. It is sometimes found on black olives....

. The umbrella term aflatoxin refers to four different types of mycotoxins produced, which are B1, B2, G1, and G2. Aflatoxin B1, the most toxic, is a potent carcinogen
A carcinogen is any substance, radionuclide, or radiation that is an agent directly involved in causing cancer. This may be due to the ability to damage the genome or to the disruption of cellular metabolic processes...

 and has been directly correlated to adverse health effects, such as liver cancer
Hepatocellular carcinoma
Hepatocellular carcinoma is the most common type of liver cancer. Most cases of HCC are secondary to either a viral hepatitide infection or cirrhosis .Compared to other cancers, HCC is quite a rare tumor in the United States...

, in many animal species. Aflatoxins are largely associated with commodities produced in the tropics
The tropics is a region of the Earth surrounding the Equator. It is limited in latitude by the Tropic of Cancer in the northern hemisphere at approximately  N and the Tropic of Capricorn in the southern hemisphere at  S; these latitudes correspond to the axial tilt of the Earth...

 and subtropics
The subtropics are the geographical and climatical zone of the Earth immediately north and south of the tropical zone, which is bounded by the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, at latitudes 23.5°N and 23.5°S...

, such as cotton
Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal....

, peanuts
Peanuts is a syndicated daily and Sunday American comic strip written and illustrated by Charles M. Schulz, which ran from October 2, 1950, to February 13, 2000, continuing in reruns afterward...

, spices, pistachios and maize
Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...


Ochratoxins are a group of mycotoxins produced by some Aspergillus species and Penicillium species including Aspergillus ochraceus and Penicillium viridicatum...

is a mycotoxin that comes in three secondary metabolite forms, A, B, and C. All are produced by Penicillium and Aspergillus species. The three forms differ in that Ochratoxin B (OTB) is a nonchlorinated form of Ochratoxin A (OTA) and that Ochratoxin C (OTC) is an ethyl ester form Ochratoxin A. Aspergillus ochraceus is found as a contaminant of a wide range of commodities including beverages such as beer and wine. Aspergillus carbonarius is the main species found on vine fruit, which releases its toxin during the juice making process. OTA has been labeled as a carcinogen and a nephrotoxin, and has been linked to tumors in the human urinary tract, although research in humans is limited by confounding factors
In statistics, a confounding variable is an extraneous variable in a statistical model that correlates with both the dependent variable and the independent variable...


Citrinin is a mycotoxin originally isolated from Penicillium citrinum. It has since been found to be produced by a variety of other fungi which are used in the production of human foods such as grain, cheese, sake and red pigments...

is a toxin that was first isolated from Penicillium citrinum, but has been identified in over a dozen species of Penicillium and several species of Aspergillus
Aspergillus is a genus consisting of several hundred mold species found in various climates worldwide. Aspergillus was first catalogued in 1729 by the Italian priest and biologist Pier Antonio Micheli...

. Some of these species are used to produce human foodstuffs such as cheese (Penicillium camemberti), sake, miso
is a traditional Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting rice, barley and/or soybeans, with salt and the fungus , the most typical miso being made with soy. The result is a thick paste used for sauces and spreads, pickling vegetables or meats, and mixing with dashi soup stock to serve as miso...

, and soy sauce
Soy sauce
Soy sauce is a condiment produced by fermenting soybeans with Aspergillus oryzae or Aspergillus sojae molds, along with water and salt...

 (Aspergillus oryzae
Aspergillus oryzae
Aspergillus oryzae is a filamentous fungus . It is used in Chinese and Japanese cuisine to ferment soybeans. It is also used to saccharify rice, other grains, and potatoes in the making of alcoholic beverages such as huangjiu, sake, and shōchū...

). Citrinin is associated with yellow rice disease in Japan and acts as a nephrotoxin in all animal species tested. Although it is associated with many human foods (wheat
Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

, rice
Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima . As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies...

, corn
Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...

, barley
Barley is a major cereal grain, a member of the grass family. It serves as a major animal fodder, as a base malt for beer and certain distilled beverages, and as a component of various health foods...

, oats
OATS - Open Source Assistive Technology Software - is a source code repository or "forge" for assistive technology software. It was launched in 2006 with the goal to provide a one-stop “shop” for end users, clinicians and open-source developers to promote and develop open source assistive...

, rye
Rye is a grass grown extensively as a grain and as a forage crop. It is a member of the wheat tribe and is closely related to barley and wheat. Rye grain is used for flour, rye bread, rye beer, some whiskeys, some vodkas, and animal fodder...

, and food colored with Monascus
Monascus is a genus of mold. Among the 24 known species of this genus, the red-pigmented Monascus purpureus is among the most important because of its use in the production of certain fermented foods in East Asia, particularly China and Japan....

 pigment) its full significance for human health is unknown. Citrinin can also act synergistically with Ochratoxin A to depress RNA synthesis in murine kidneys.

Ergot or ergot fungi refers to a group of fungi of the genus Claviceps. The most prominent member of this group is Claviceps purpurea. This fungus grows on rye and related plants, and produces alkaloids that can cause ergotism in humans and other mammals who consume grains contaminated with its...

are compounds produced as a toxic mixture of alkaloids in the sclerotia
A sclerotium is a compact mass of hardened fungal mycelium containing food reserves. One role of sclerotia is to survive environmental extremes. In some higher fungi such as ergot, sclerotia become detached and remain dormant until a favorable opportunity for growth. Other fungi that produce...

 of species of Claviceps, which are common pathogens of various grass species. The ingestion of ergot sclerotia from infected cereals, commonly in the form of bread produced from contaminated flour, cause ergotism
Ergotism is the effect of long-term ergot poisoning, traditionally due to the ingestion of the alkaloids produced by the Claviceps purpurea fungus which infects rye and other cereals, and more recently by the action of a number of ergoline-based drugs. It is also known as ergotoxicosis, ergot...

 the human disease historically known as St. Anthony’s Fire. There are two forms of ergotism gangrenous affecting blood supply to extremities and convulsive that affect the central nervous system
Central nervous system
The central nervous system is the part of the nervous system that integrates the information that it receives from, and coordinates the activity of, all parts of the bodies of bilaterian animals—that is, all multicellular animals except sponges and radially symmetric animals such as jellyfish...

. Modern methods of grain cleaning have significantly reduced ergotism as a human disease, however it is still an important veterinarian problem. Ergot alkaloids have been used pharmaceutically.

Patulin is a mycotoxin produced by a variety of molds, in particular, Aspergillus and Penicillium. It is commonly found in rotting apples, and the amount of patulin in apple products is generally viewed as a measure of the quality of the apples used in production...

is a toxin produced by the P. expansum
Penicillium expansum
Penicillium expansum is a plant pathogen. It is a blue-colored mold responsible for the postharvest decay of stored apples. This mold also produces the carcinogenic metabolite patulin.- External links :* *...

, Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Paecilomyces
Paecilomyces is a genus of nematophagous fungus which kills harmful nematodes by pathogenesis, causing disease in the nematodes. Therefore the fungus can be used as a bio-nematicide to control nematodes by applying it to soil.-Species:...

fungal species. P. expansum is especially associated with a range of moldy fruit
In broad terms, a fruit is a structure of a plant that contains its seeds.The term has different meanings dependent on context. In non-technical usage, such as food preparation, fruit normally means the fleshy seed-associated structures of certain plants that are sweet and edible in the raw state,...

s and vegetable
The noun vegetable usually means an edible plant or part of a plant other than a sweet fruit or seed. This typically means the leaf, stem, or root of a plant....

s, in particular rotting apples and figs. It is destroyed by the fermentation
Fermentation (food)
Fermentation in food processing typically is the conversion of carbohydrates to alcohols and carbon dioxide or organic acids using yeasts, bacteria, or a combination thereof, under anaerobic conditions. Fermentation in simple terms is the chemical conversion of sugars into ethanol...

 process and so is not found in apple beverages, such as cider
Cider or cyder is a fermented alcoholic beverage made from apple juice. Cider varies in alcohol content from 2% abv to 8.5% abv or more in traditional English ciders. In some regions, such as Germany and America, cider may be termed "apple wine"...

. Although patulin has not been shown to be carcinogenic, it has been reported to damage the immune system
Immune system
An immune system is a system of biological structures and processes within an organism that protects against disease by identifying and killing pathogens and tumor cells. It detects a wide variety of agents, from viruses to parasitic worms, and needs to distinguish them from the organism's own...

 in animals. In 2004, the European Community set limits to the concentrations of patulin in food products. They currently stand at 50 μg/kg in all fruit juice concentrations, at 25 μg/kg in solid apple products used for direct consumption, and at 10 μg/kg for children's apple products, including apple juice.

Fusarium is a large genus of filamentous fungi widely distributed in soil and in association with plants. Most species are harmless saprobes, and are relatively abundant members of the soil microbial community. Some species produce mycotoxins in cereal crops that can affect human and animal health...

toxins are produced by over 50 species of Fusarium and have a history of infecting the grain of developing cereals such as wheat
Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

 and maize
Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...

. They include a range of mycotoxins, such as: the fumonisins
A fumonisin is a mycotoxin derived from Fusarium.More specifically, it can refer to:* Fumonisin B1* Fumonisin B2...

, which affect the nervous systems of horse
The horse is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferus, or the wild horse. It is a single-hooved mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae. The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature into the large, single-toed animal of today...

s and may cause cancer in rodent
Rodentia is an order of mammals also known as rodents, characterised by two continuously growing incisors in the upper and lower jaws which must be kept short by gnawing....

s; the trichothecenes, which are most strongly associated with chronic and fatal toxic effects in animals and humans; and zearalenone
Zearalenone , also known as RAL and F-2 mycotoxin, is a potent estrogenic metabolite produced by some Gibberella species.Several Fusarium species produce toxic substances of considerable concern to livestock and poultry producers: namely, deoxynivalenol, T-2 toxin, HT-2 toxin, diacetoxyscirpenol ...

, which is not correlated to any fatal toxic effects in animals or humans. Some of the other major types of Fusarium toxins include: beauvercin and enniatins, butenolide
Butenolides are a class of lactones with a four-carbon heterocyclic ring structure. They are sometimes considered oxidized derivatives of furan. The simplest butenolide is 2-furanone, which is a common component of larger natural products and is sometimes referred to as simply "butenolide". A...

, equisetin, and fusarins.

Binding agents and deactivators

In the feed and food industry it has become common practice to add mycotoxin binding agents such as Montmorillonite
Montmorillonite is a very soft phyllosilicate group of minerals that typically form in microscopic crystals, forming a clay. It is named after Montmorillon in France. Montmorillonite, a member of the smectite family, is a 2:1 clay, meaning that it has 2 tetrahedral sheets sandwiching a central...

 or bentonite
Bentonite is an absorbent aluminium phyllosilicate, essentially impure clay consisting mostly of montmorillonite. There are different types of bentonite, each named after the respective dominant element, such as potassium , sodium , calcium , and aluminum . Experts debate a number of nomenclatorial...

 clay in order to affectively adsorb the mycotoxins. To reverse the adverse effects of mycotoxins, the following criteria are used to evaluate the functionality of any binding additive:
  • Efficacy of active component verified by scientific data
  • A low effective inclusion rate
  • Stability over a wide pH range
  • High capacity to adsorb high concentrations of mycotoxins
  • High affinity to adsorb low concentrations of mycotoxins
  • Affirmation of chemical interaction between mycotoxin and adsorbent
  • Proven in vivo data with all major mycotoxins
  • Non-toxic, environmentally friendly component

Since not all mycotoxins can be bound to such agents, the latest approach to mycotoxin control is mycotoxin deactivation. By means of enzymes (esterase
An esterase is a hydrolase enzyme that splits esters into an acid and an alcohol in a chemical reaction with water called hydrolysis.A wide range of different esterases exist that differ in their substrate specificity, their protein structure, and their biological function.- EC classification/list...

, epoxidase), yeast
Yeasts are eukaryotic micro-organisms classified in the kingdom Fungi, with 1,500 species currently described estimated to be only 1% of all fungal species. Most reproduce asexually by mitosis, and many do so by an asymmetric division process called budding...

 (Trichosporon mycotoxinvorans) or bacterial strains (Eubacterium
Eubacterium is a Gram positive bacteria genus in the family Eubacteriaceae....

 BBSH 797), mycotoxins can be reduced during pre-harvesting contamination. Other removal methods include physical separation, washing, milling, heat-treatment, radiation, extraction with solvents, and the use of chemical or biological agents. Irradiation methods have proven to be effective treatment against mold growth and toxin production.

In the indoor environment

Buildings are another source of mycotoxins and people living or working in areas with mold increase their chances of adverse health effects. Molds growing in buildings can be divided into three groups — Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary colonizers. Each group is categorized by the ability to grow at a certain water activity requirement. It has become difficult to identify mycotoxins production by indoor molds for many variables, such as (i) they may be masked as derivatives (ii) they are poorly documented and (iii) the fact that they are likely to produce different metabolites on building materials. Some of the mycotoxins in the indoor environment are produced by Alternaria
Alternaria is a genus of ascomycete fungi. Alternaria species are known as major plant pathogens. They are also common allergens in humans, growing indoors and causing hay fever or hypersensitivity reactions that sometimes lead to asthma...

, Aspergillus
Aspergillus is a genus consisting of several hundred mold species found in various climates worldwide. Aspergillus was first catalogued in 1729 by the Italian priest and biologist Pier Antonio Micheli...

 (multiple forms), Penicillium
Penicillium is a genus of ascomycetous fungi of major importance in the natural environment as well as food and drug production. Members of the genus produce penicillin, a molecule that is used as an antibiotic, which kills or stops the growth of certain kinds of bacteria inside the body...

, and Stachybotrys
Stachybotrys is a genus of molds, or asexually-reproducing, filamentous fungi. Closely related to the genus Memnoniella, most Stachybotrys species inhabit materials rich in cellulose. The genus has a widespread distribution, and contains about 50 species.The most infamous species, S. chartarum and S...

. Stachybotrys chartarum contains a higher number of mycotoxins than other molds grown in the indoor environment and has been associated with allergies and respiratory inflammation. The infestation of S. chartarum in buildings containing gypsum board, as well as on ceiling tiles, is very common and has recently become a more recognized problem. When gypsum board has been repeatedly introduced to moisture S. chartarum grows readily on its cellulose face. This stresses the importance of moisture controls and ventilation within residential homes and other buildings. The negative health effects of mycotoxins are a function of the concentration
In chemistry, concentration is defined as the abundance of a constituent divided by the total volume of a mixture. Four types can be distinguished: mass concentration, molar concentration, number concentration, and volume concentration...

, the duration of exposure and the subject's sensitivities. The concentrations experienced in a normal home, office or school are often too low to trigger a health response in occupants.

In the 1990s, public concern over mycotoxins increased following multi-million dollar toxic mold
Toxic mold
Mold health issues are potentially harmful effects of molds.Molds are ubiquitous in the biosphere, and mold spores are a common component of household and workplace dust...

 settlements. The lawsuits took place after the Center for Disease Control
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are a United States federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services headquartered in Druid Hills, unincorporated DeKalb County, Georgia, in Greater Atlanta...

 (CDC) did a study in Cleveland Ohio and claimed that there was an association between mycotoxins from Stachybotrys spores and pulmonary hemorrhage in infants. However in 2000, based on internal and external reviews of their data, the CDC concluded that because of flaws in their methods the association was not proven. Stachybotrys spores in animal studies have been shown to cause lung hemorrhaging but only at very high concentrations.

One study by the Center of Integrative Toxicology at Michigan State University investigated the causes of Damp Building Related Illness (DBRI). They found that Stachybotrys is possibly an important contributing factor to DBRI. So far animal models indicate that airway exposure to S. chartarum can evoke allergic sensitization, inflammation, and cytotoxicity in the upper and lower respiratory tracts. Trichothecene toxicity appears to be an underlying cause of many these adverse effects. Recent findings indicate that lower doses (studies usually involve high doses) can cause these symptoms.

Some toxicologists have used the Concentration of No Toxicological Concern (CoNTC) measure to represent the airborne concentration of mycotoxins that are expected to cause no hazard to humans (exposed continuously throughout a 70–yr lifetime). The resulting data of several studies have thus far demonstrated that common exposures to airborne mycotoxins in the built indoor environment are below the CoNTC, however agricultural environments have potential to produce levels greater than the CoNTC.

Human health effects

Mycotoxicoses is the term used for poisoning associated with exposures to mycotoxins. The symptoms of a mycotoxicosis depend on the type of mycotoxin; the concentration and length of exposure; as well as age, health, and sex of the exposed individual. The synergistic effects associated with several other factors such as genetics, diet, and interactions with other toxics have been poorly studied. Therefore it is possible that vitamin deficiency, caloric deprivation, alcohol abuse, and infectious disease status can all have compounded effects with mycotoxins. In turn, mycotoxins have the potential for both acute and chronic health effects via ingestion, skin contact, and inhalation. These toxins can enter the blood stream and lymphatic system, they inhibit protein synthesis, damage macrophage
Macrophages are cells produced by the differentiation of monocytes in tissues. Human macrophages are about in diameter. Monocytes and macrophages are phagocytes. Macrophages function in both non-specific defense as well as help initiate specific defense mechanisms of vertebrate animals...

 systems, inhibit particle clearance of the lung, and increase sensitivity to bacterial endotoxin.

In 2004 in Kenya, 125 people died and nearly 200 others were treated after eating aflatoxin
Aflatoxins are naturally occurring mycotoxins that are produced by many species of Aspergillus, a fungus, the most notable ones being Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. Aflatoxins are toxic and among the most carcinogenic substances known...

-contaminated maize.
The deaths were mainly associated with homegrown maize that had not been treated with fungicides or properly dried before storage. Due to food shortages at the time, farmers may have been harvesting maize earlier than normal to prevent thefts from their fields, so that the grain had not fully matured and was more susceptible to infection.

In fiction

A fictional use of a mycotoxin occurs in William Gibson
William Gibson
William Gibson is an American-Canadian science fiction author.William Gibson may also refer to:-Association football:*Will Gibson , Scottish footballer...

's seminal novel Neuromancer
Neuromancer is a 1984 novel by William Gibson, a seminal work in the cyberpunk genre and the first winner of the science-fiction "triple crown" — the Nebula Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, and the Hugo Award. It was Gibson's debut novel and the beginning of the Sprawl trilogy...

A "Russian war-time mycotoxin" is administered to Case, the novel's protagonist.

See also

  • Mold
    Molds are fungi that grow in the form of multicellular filaments called hyphae. Molds are not considered to be microbes but microscopic fungi that grow as single cells called yeasts...

  • Mold health issues
  • Mold growth, assessment, and remediation
    Mold growth, assessment, and remediation
    Mold assessment and mold remediation are techniques used in occupational health: mold assessment is the process of identifying the location and extent of the mold hazard in a structure, and mold remediation is the process of removal and/or cleanup of mold from an indoor environment.-Health...

  • Mushroom poisoning
    Mushroom poisoning
    Mushroom poisoning refers to harmful effects from ingestion of toxic substances present in a mushroom. These symptoms can vary from slight gastrointestinal discomfort to death. The toxins present are secondary metabolites produced in specific biochemical pathways in the fungal cells...

External links

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