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Integrated and innovative key actions for mycotoxin management in the food and feed chain

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - MycoKey (Integrated and innovative key actions for mycotoxin management in the food and feed chain)

Reporting period: 2019-04-01 to 2020-10-31

One increasing problem for the food safety in Europe and in the world is the spread of mycotoxins occurrence in crops, mainly linked to the climate change, with potentially severe implications for human and animal health, food security and international trade. The MycoKey project contributed to mitigating the mycotoxin contamination in food and feed chains, by developing effective solutions to improve their competitiveness and sustainability. It investigated maize, wheat and barley crops, their associated toxigenic fungi and related mycotoxins (aflatoxins, deoxynivalenol, zearalenone, ochratoxin A, fumonisins, T-2 and HT-2 toxins) in Europe and China. The overall objective was to integrate key information and practical solutions into a smart ICT tool (MycoKey App) and providing answers to stakeholders.
The project innovated mycotoxin management by i) developing ICT based solutions, providing input for legislation, enhancing knowledge and networks; ii) selecting and improving a range of tools for toxigenic fungi and mycotoxin monitoring; iii) assessing the use of reliable cost-effective technical/management solution, sustainable compounds and green technologies in prevention, intervention and remediation in the field, during storage, processing and transportation in the major food and feed chains; iv) alternative and safe ways to use contaminated batches.
The multi-disciplinary consortium was composed of scientific, industrial and association partners (31), including 11 Chinese institutions.
The work performed in the 4 years addressed the following areas (results):
GLOBAL MYCOTOXIN KNOWLEDGE: review of scientific updates, knowledge for stakeholders, short messages for farmers to be included in the App, Good Practices Guidelines and smart messages for end-users (16 Lay summaries). Mycotox charter website is available. Predictive models running as a useful tool to predict the level of mycotoxin contamination risk supporting stakeholders/policy makers. 4 Round Tables and 4 Working Groups enhanced the strong global multi-disciplinary scientific network.
TOXIGENIC FUNGI MONITORING: a predictive model for AFLA and FUM in maize for the farmers. A model for DON and ZEA prediction in maize; sequence data for public on-line Databases for fungal species identification. On-site LAMP assay evaluated during the MycoKey Workshops. Whole-genome sequencing, information on new genotypes and distribution of mycotoxin gene clusters. Use of environmental on-site sensors.
MYCOTOXIN MONITORING: alternative method and device for grain dust sampling in maize, SOP (guidance note) for the industry on dust analysis and on-site testing; data presented to DG SANTE to support EU policy on sampling. New tests: UNISENSOR “3 Myco” DON/ZEA/FUM multiplex dipstick test; aptamer-based multi-mycotoxin rapid screening tests; fluorescence polarization immunoassay (FPIA)-based rapid screening tests; real-time electrochemical profiling (REP) system for rapid mycotoxin screening. The tests were exploited in industrial environments, on-site, training. Novel toxicokinetics data on modified forms of DON, ZEA and AFB1 discussed with EFSA as a contribution to regulation.
3) PREVENTION IN THE FIELD: new marketable biopesticides: AflaSafe II registered in Ghana (98% AFLA reduction); a new fungicide under registration in China. Intercrop and cover crop experiments reduced contamination in wheat (DON and ZEA up to 75%); highly tolerant varieties reducing the risk of DON and ZEA in wheat.
INTERVENTION STRATEGIES to mitigate the fungal infection of crops in the field, during storage or processing: C. rosea strains reduced disease severity and DON content up to 100%; novel fungicides compounds developed against FHB; EOW treatment in grape field tests against A. carbonarius; non-thermal plasma system and UV-C treatment against fungal growth on green coffee, walnut, maize, and peanuts.
REMEDIATION: combined cleaning technologies for mycotoxin reduction in maize at industrial scale level (AFLA: 60-90%, FUM: 22-65%*, DON: 36-55%*, ZEA: 75-100%); new feed additives developed (ranging 60 to 100%). New enzymes/microorganisms and Pleurotus laccase enzymes proven to be effective for different mycotoxins up to 93%.
ICT SOLUTIONS: the MycoKey app is linked to a georeferenced information platform to support data-driven, precision agriculture and mycotoxin management, allowing the comprehensive monitoring of DON in wheat and AFB1 and FUM in maize.
COMMUNICATION, DISSEMINATION, EXPLOITATION: 75 open access papers. Short Term Mission assigned to international PhD students and young researchers. 3 MycoKey International Conferences successfully held (Belgium, China, online). Technological workshops in Finland, Romania, Switzerland and training courses in Italy and China transferred the MycoKey solutions to potential users, industries and producers.
MycoKey develops new approaches to mycotoxin management through the integration of output arising from the global knowledge harmonization on key topics and development of research data. This integration feeds a new smart and user-friendly MycoKey app, a system representing a step forward for scientific-practical advises to growers, stakeholders and researchers. The project contributes to strengthen the skills of young researchers and awareness about mycotoxin risks on human and animal health. Moreover, MycoKey is enhancing the EU-China dialogue, by involving the Chinese Consortium in linked research activities. Alliances/scientific agreements with other EU funded projects are enhancing international cooperation, specifically with the H2020 MyToolBox project. On-site applicable and ICT new integrated solutions were developed in the field of toxigenic fungi and mycotoxin monitoring along the chain. Integrated prediction models were developed for efficient crop management and stakeholders use. The approach is based on: a) combination of risk models and control systems on site; b) development of new (multi)-mycotoxin screening methods on-site for multi-mycotoxin in situ and on-line analyses; c) detection technologies for customized use in an open-source environment. New validated detection methodologies and advances in knowledge on mycotoxins modified forms will be available for eventual new legislation. The project has enhanced the potential of biocontrol use against aflatoxin contamination in maize and peanuts, by applying it to emerging high-risk areas in Europe (Italy, Serbia, Romania) and China. Sustainable control strategies, based on natural compounds and biological control agents, to be used against FHB, have been studied for market application. Less Fusarium susceptible wheat and maize genetic material has been selected. Less toxic and more effective new fungicides were tested. Novel post-harvest green solutions, sanitation techniques and cleaning equipment to reduce mycotoxins in food products are ready for industries. New feed additives are available, based on multi-mycotoxin detoxifying agents, and criteria and protocols validated and standardized, according to EU regulations and EFSA guidelines. The safe use options solutions will release effective biological methods for mycotoxin detoxification and cost-effective production of biofuel from mycotoxin contaminated biomasses. Finally, 75 manuscripts were published in peer-reviewed journals.
Finally, 75 publications arising from MycoKey research have been published in peer-review journals.
Mycokey ICT solutions
MycoKey EU-CHINA dialogue
MycoKey key actions on food and feed chain
MycoKey International Consortium
MycoKey key exploitable results