Sanitary security of foodstuffs
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Sanitary quality of maize (corn) & Mycotoxins

Keys for understanding

Mycotoxins: molecules produced by fungi

Food can be contaminated by fungi. These moulds develop inside or around the seeds, depending on their biological make-up and ecophysiological conditions.

Some of these fungi are said to be toxigenic: they can synthesise one or more metabolites which become toxic for man and certain animals when ingested in large quantities. These are called mycotoxins.

Toxigenic fungi do not systematically produce toxins; this depends largely on environmental conditions.


The level of toxicity is very variable for different animal species

The effects of mycotoxins vary considerably from one species to another: they can be very toxic for one species and not very harmful or of neutral effect for another. Poultry for example are not very sensitive to them, unlike pigs and cows. More generally, "monogastric" species are often the most sensitive species in this respect..

Legislation takes this complex situation into account.


Molecules which are difficult to eliminate

Mycotoxins are very small molecules. Some of them are thermo resistant and very stable chemically, making detoxification procedures difficult. They remain longer in foodstuffs than the lifespan of the fungi that synthesised them.


Field mycotoxins

When mycotoxins are produced by fungi which grow on the plant in the field, they are usually called "field mycotoxins".

When they are produced during storage under certain conditions, they are called "storage mycotoxins".


Molecules whose role has not yet been fully discovered

Their biological role is not yet well defined. Are they simply the product of the decay of fungi or do they increase the strength of the attack of fungi on the plant or seed?



© Maïsadour Semences 2021 | Doc. designed August 10, 2006 - updated 15 mars, 2007 | Mentions légales |



Mycotoxins are molecules produced by certain fungi when in favourable ecophysiological conditions. They can be toxic for humans and some animal species when a certain quantity is ingested.