Research Features

FABIans Ms. Jenna-Lee Price, Prof. Cobus Visagie and Dr Neriman Yilmaz, together with their collaborator Mrs Hannalien Meyer from the Southern African Grain Laboratory, recently published an article in a special issue of the journal “Toxins: 15th Anniversary”. The study reports on maize ear rots and associated mycotoxins in maize collected in the Eastern Cape during the 2020/21 season. The researchers investigated ear rots on these farms and identified several diseases, including Cladosporium, Diplodia, Fusarium, and Gibberella ear rots. Fungal isolations led to the identification of six genera and 16 species, mainly Fusarium and Stenocarpella. Mycotoxins were detected in 83% of the samples, with 50% containing multiple mycotoxins such as deoxynivalenol, 15-acetyl-deoxynivalenol, diplodiatoxin, and zearalenone.

Fusarium verticillioides, a known producer of fumonisins, was not isolated, nor were fumonisins detected during the survey. However, this study has shown that ear rot in the Eastern Cape is caused by a wide range of species that can produce various mycotoxins and pose a potential threat to maize production in the region.

Furthermore, this is the first report of diplodiatoxin in Eastern Cape produced maize. The findings of this research indicate that both fungal communities and mycotoxin profiles of Eastern Cape maize have changed from those previously reported for the region and that there is a need for management strategies to mitigate mycotoxin contamination of maize, ensuring the safety and quality of maize products from the Eastern Cape and beyond.

Read the full article here.