Toxigenic fungi of the genera Fusarium and Aspergillus can infect cereal and maize plants, leading not only to significant yield losses, but also to harvested produce that are contaminated with mycotoxins, and are hence unsuitable for use as food or feed.
Infection with toxigenic fungi can lead to considerable yield and quality losses in cereals and maize. In addition, the harvested crop is frequently contaminated with dangerous fungal toxins (mycotoxins) which jeopardise the health of humans and animals. Species of the genera Fusarium and Aspergillus belong to the most common toxin producing fungi.
Colonies of Fusarium graminearum on wheat kernels
In order to ensure the production of high-quality cereal and maize products, Agroscope researchers are studying both Fusarium infection and mycotoxin contamination in harvest samples of wheat, barley and oats. Factors predisposing crops to infection are elucidated through an in-depth analysis of the cultivation methods used on the land where the samples were taken.
Furthermore, we are investigating whether a higher content of health promoting compounds (e.g. beta glucans or different antioxidans) in cereal varieties leads to a lower Fusarium infection, and hence to lower mycotoxin content.