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Animal Health

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Livestock Production
Tuesday, May 15, 2007 3:46:40 PM
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New facts about mycotoxin control - Intensive research in the field of mycotoxin deactivation gives new insights!

Dr Devendra S. Verma



India's feed and poultry industries are already aware of the possibility of various mycotoxin contaminations in feed. This holds true not only for mycotoxins such as aflatoxins, but to other mycotoxins as well including ochratoxin A, T-2 toxin, zearalenone, citrinin and fumonisins.


Mycotoxin effects are likely to be subtle and largely go unnoticed unless careful observation is made and detailed records are kept. Problems associated with fungi growth and various commonly encountered mycotoxins in feed can have serious economic consequences.


Different degrees of toxicity of the individual mycotoxins on various animal species, such as poultry, cattle and swine are revealed through corresponding LD 50 values, their influence on health status and economical parameters.


Fungal growth and mycotoxin production depend on a complex interaction of parameters such as temperature, pH value, water activity, oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, composition of the substrate, competitive microorganisms, and prevalence of various fungal strains. During storage of grain and feedstuffs, knowledge of these ecological factors is important to avoid mycotoxin formation.


Mycotoxicoses are human or animal diseases originating from mycotoxins. They can be acute or chronic. However, it is not always easy to diagnose mycotoxicoses, because signs of the toxic syndromes are similar to numerous other diseases.


Acute mycotoxicoses result in striking effects and often death. Fortunately, however, contamination levels in feed are usually not high enough to cause clear-cut toxicoses. Low levels of toxins in feeds are likely to cause an array of metabolic disturbances, which may or may not be accompanied by pathological changes.


The effects on immunity and resistance are often difficult to recognise, because disease symptoms are associated with the infection rather than the toxin that predisposed the animal to infection.


This is because the immunosuppressant effects of many mycotoxins occur at much lower levels of intake than the toxins affecting production parameters, such as growth rate or egg production. Toxin ingestion can reduce effectiveness of vaccination programmes.


Of all the mycotoxins that have been identified since 1960, more studies have been reported on aflatoxins than on any of the others, probably because of their toxicological characteristics and the fact that they are unavoidable contaminants found in various foods and feeds.


Other mycotoxins examined in this article include ochratoxins, trichothecenes, and zearalenone. Their negative effects on chickens during trials are also described.


While natural, herbal and synthetic binders have been used extensively in feed to control mycotoxins, their binding ability is restricted to aflatoxins. Other mycotoxins including zearalenone, T2 toxin and ochratoxin lack the functional polar groups required for efficient adsorption or binding. This feature makes the usage of binders ineffective in controlling all mycotoxins.


A new generation of mycotoxin control in the form of biotransformation, using microbes to cleave and detoxify mycotoxin molecules, offers a more targeted and safer way to control mycotoxins. The method is also time tested.


In conclusion, based on the knowledge summarised above and information about overall control methods for mycotoxins, the biotransformation strategy would be the best choice available for keeping mycotoxin threats to bare minimum levels.


For more of the article, please click here.


Article made possible through the contribution of Biomin.

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