Field application of beneficial fungi to prevent postharvest mycotoxin contamination


Abstract: In the last years there is an increasing pressure leading to the development of alternative strategies to guarantee food security, with the continuous pursuit of food quality, the need to feed an increasing global population and to satisfy the legislative requirements (especially at EU level) to reduce the chemical input in the environment and in agriculture.According to a recent report by FAO, 15 crop plants provide 90% of the world’s food energy intake, with cereals such as rice, corn and wheat representing the most important staple foods. Cereals are very often a target for mycotoxigenic fungi, which can cause severe crop losses in the field and quality reduction in harvested crops due to the accumulation of mycotoxins. Despite mycotoxin production occurs after harvest, thanks to the growth of the inoculum present in caryopses and improper storage conditions, infection by mycotoxigenic fungi starts in the field at a preharvest stage. Within the wide scenario of plant pathogens, controlling mycotoxigenic fungi is critical.Beneficial fungi, both filamentous and yeasts, are well-known potential biocontrol agents for use in crop protection, as part of integrated or biological strategies, and represent one of the possible solutions to manage mycotoxigenic fungi. This contribution will present an overview of the possible applications of beneficial fungi, at a preharvest stage, on cereals such as corn and wheat in order to control the attack of Aspergillus and Fusarium, respectively, and to reduce the risk of mycotoxin contamination (aflatoxins and trichothecenes) at a postharvest stage and in the resulting food and feed commodities.

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