Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Investigation on the infection/contamination of cereals, products derived from cereals and silage with moulds and mycotoxins and measures for their reduction

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
4.03.01  Biotechnical sciences  Plant production  Agricultural plants 

Code Science Field
B420  Biomedical sciences  Nutrition 

Code Science Field
4.05  Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences  Other agricultural sciences 
Moulds, Fusarium spp. mycotoxins, cereals, maize, silage, food chain
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (17)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  00357  PhD Franci Aco Celar  Plant production  Researcher  2011 - 2014  359 
2.  20347  PhD Klementina Fon Tacer  Metabolic and hormonal disorders  Researcher  2011 - 2012  126 
3.  18592  PhD Breda Jakovac Strajn  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2011 - 2014  214 
4.  11408  PhD Stanislava Kirinčič  Chemistry  Researcher  2011 - 2014  99 
5.  05007  PhD Darja Kocjan-Ačko  Plant production  Researcher  2011 - 2014  946 
6.  29913  PhD Katarina Kos  Plant production  Researcher  2011 - 2014  142 
7.  34389  Nataša Kos  Chemistry  Researcher  2012 
8.  11222  PhD Boris Kovač  Biotechnology  Researcher  2011 - 2014  197 
9.  24778  PhD Katarina Pavšič Vrtač  Animal production  Technical associate  2011 - 2014  59 
10.  15945  MSc Andreja Rijavec Bregar  Biotechnology  Researcher  2011 - 2014  10 
11.  15993  PhD Igor Šantavec  Plant production  Researcher  2011 - 2014  149 
12.  34393  Barbara Škrjanc  Chemistry  Researcher  2012  16 
13.  34684  Karin Šrimpf  Veterinarian medicine  Technical associate  2011 - 2014 
14.  07811  PhD Gabrijela Tavčar Kalcher  Veterinarian medicine  Head  2011 - 2014  153 
15.  17763  PhD Stanislav Trdan  Biotechnical sciences  Researcher  2011 - 2014  1,110 
16.  28617  PhD Igor Ujčič Vrhovnik  Animal production  Technical associate  2011 - 2014  55 
17.  06006  PhD Anton Vengušt  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2011 - 2012  131 
Organisations (4)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0197  Mlinotest Živilska industrija d.d. (Slovene)  Ajdovščina  5132061000  208 
2.  0406  University of Ljubljana, Veterinary Faculty  Ljubljana  1627139  10,862 
3.  0481  University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty  Ljubljana  1626914  66,962 
4.  3333  National Institut of Public Health  Ljubljana  6462642  18,462 
Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites of various moulds, which cause poisoning (mycotoxicosis) in humans and animals after ingestion. Molds, growing on grains, can start to produce mycotoxins before harvest, after harvest or later, during improper storage. The most common moulds that produce mycotoxins are Fusarium spp., Aspergillus spp. and Penicillium spp. They are often found in maize and cereals used for human or animal consumption. Since toxigenic moulds are widespread, in fact, mycotoxins can be found in all parts of the world. Slovenian agriculture is livestock-oriented, therefore on our field mostly plants intended for animal feed (maize, wheat, etc.) are grown. It was found out that in Slovenia, both maize and wheat are most frequently infected with almost identical fungus Fusarium, which is allowed by a narrow rotation of maize/cereals. The result is considerable economic damage. Predominant fungal species of Fusarium in maize and in cereals in Slovenia are F. graminearum and F. avenaceum, which produce important mycotoxins: deoxynivalenol (DON), nivalenol (NIV), zearalenone (ZEN) and fumonisins (FUM). As the third important type, the F. subglutinans (FUM) appears in maize and F. culmorum (DON, ZEN) in wheat. Mould-resistant species of plants and various fungicides are being developed around the world, but to date no really effective protective methods are known. Only preventive measures can be provided, including appropriate crop practices, adequate drying of the crop after harvest and good storage practice. It is particularly difficult to assess realistically the actual damage caused by mycotoxins in animal production, but it must be very big. From the information given above, it is clear that the control on mycotoxins in the human and animal food chain is justified and necessary. In the EU, regulations on the highest tolerable concentrations of various mycotoxins in human food and products intended for feed were adopted. For ensuring the products safety, systematic procedures covering all cultivating and processing phases from protection of plants during growth to processing and control of final products must be implemented. At all segments mentioned, improvements are needed. This is confirmed by the fact that a project entitled FP7 Food Quality and Safety Priority - Large Collaborative Project - GA 222690 MycoRed - "Design and development of novel integrated strategies for worldwide mycotoxin reduction in food and feed chains" is just active within Seventh Framework Programme. Although it is well known, that a considerable part of the produced cereals is contaminated with mycotokxns, very little attention is paid to the contamination of silage with toxic metabolites of moulds. Cattle are often fed with spoiled or moldy silage. In recent years, silage is most frequently contaminated with the mould Penicillium roqueforti and with toxins produced by this mould. Allthough there is very little known about harmful effects of mycotoxins in silage and about the transfer of the metabolites into milk, the various foreign research results indicate that a situation in Slovenia shall be investigated and the search for solutions within EU shall be joined. In order to establish comprehensive management and measures for the reduction of the incidence of mycotoxins in cereals, products derived from cereals and silages, four institutions dealing with a problem of contamination of cereals with fungi and/or with mycotoxins in feed and food were joined together: Veterinary Faculty, Biotechnical Faculty, National Institute of Public Health and Mlinotest, d.o.o. By combining the existing experiences, theory, planned experiments, development of new laboratory methods and technologies as well as with the improvement of the existing ones, comprehensive solutions for managing moulds and mycotoxins in the whole food chain can be proposed.
Significance for science
Mycotoxins are one of the most common contaminants of food and feed, therefore within food safety great attention is paid to them. Since moulds are present everywhere, mycotoxins cannot be removed from the food chain completely. Therefore, constant monitoring and activities to reduce mycotoxins in raw materials, food and feed to a minimum are necessary. While research, improvements and measures in the field of mycotoxins have been carried out for decades already, the issue is still relevant. It is important due to emerging or newly detected mycotoxins as well as due to climatic changes which caused that even in our climate zone, where mycotoxins did not represent a particular problem in the past, they appear more and more frequently and in higher and higher concentrations. With these studies, we got an insight into the situation regarding moulds and mycotoxins throughout the food chain in Slovenia, which represents a contribution to the knowledge of the problem and the prevalence of moulds and mycotoxins in the world and enables a more accurate risk assessment.
Significance for the country
With the study, we got an insight into the state of mycotoxins throughout the food chain in Slovenia. Based on the collected results of analyses of food, the degree of contamination of foodstuffs on the Slovenian market with the mycotoxins in comparison with other countries was assessed. In the field experiments, the resistance of different maize hybrids to infection with fungi of the genus Fusarium, the presence of mycotoxins before and after ensiling of maize artificially infected with Fusarium spp, the presence of mycotoxins in organically produced wheat, the impact of crop rotation, the method of processing and other agro-technical measures on the incidence of fusariosis were studied. Development and application of an analytical method for the simultaneous determination of mycotoxins enables an insight into the presence and approximate concentration of a large number of toxins in samples. It enabled the determination of mycotoxins that were not monitored so far and insight into the state of pollution of silages with mycotoxins. The introduction of the method represents an important contribution, so it would be reasonable to use it for different purposes. In the area of feed and subsequently food of animal origin safety it could be used by everyone who deals with feed or raw materials for it. Experiments in the mill processing industry revealed the effects of milling and storage of grain on the levels of mycotoxins, the distribution of toxins in different milling fractions and the impact of a method whole wheat dough preparation on the toxin content in the final product. By connecting the current practice, theory and results of experiments carried out in the study, a comprehensive solution for the control of moulds and mycotoxins in the food chain were suggested.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2011, 2012, 2013, final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2011, 2012, 2013, final report
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