Recap: Five Lessons Learned from WMFmeetsIUPAC in Winnipeg

It was great experience, and the organizers kindly wrapped up the 3 days with 5 lessons learned.
From left to right: Sebastien Kowalczyk, Simone Schreiter, Barbara Novak, Karin Naehrer, Julie Sundgaard, Gerd Schatzmayr, Kurt Brunner, Michele Muccio, Christina Schwab, Gerald Schultheis, Christiane Gruber-Dorninger, Sebastian Fruhauf, Pierre Desmarais

1. We are living in a changing world

Shifting climatic patterns mean that aflatoxins typically found in tropical zones are creeping up in places such as Europe. As we’ve written a previous piece, Opens external link in new windowa warmer planet could mean higher concentrations of mycotoxins in feedstuffs. Past problems, such as ergot contamination in Western Canada, can reappear. 

2. We need to consider co-exposure to multiple mycotoxins & other contaminants

As we reported at Opens external link in new windowthe 2014 World Mycotoxin Forum, co-occurrence of mycotoxins in the field is the norm, not the exception. That sentiment was strongly reaffirmed this year, and now food authorities have recognized co-occurrence as a priority in exposure assessment. More research and new technologies are key to providing a fuller picture. Watch this space.

3. New advanced tools for sampling and analysis

The on-line Opens external link in new windowFAO mycotoxin sampling tool is a great way to check your sampling plan—just as we pointed out during the Mycotoxin Testing and Survey Results Opens external link in new windowwebinar held in cooperation with Opens external link in new windowRomer LabsOpens external link in new window® in March of this year.

Advanced mass spectrometry methods such as LC-MS/MS lead to a clearer picture of normal and masked (not easily detected) mycotoxins. Why need biomarkers for several reasons. They demonstrate mycotoxin contamination and deactivation in vivo. Oftentimes, mycotoxin contamination in animals may not be visible, but can still cause internal damage—biomarkers can reveal these situations. Importantly, biomarkers tell us whether improved animal performance is an indirect effect of a feed additive (e.g. animals are still poisoned but feel better for other reasons) or a direct effect of a mycotoxin deactivator that addresses the root cause of animal performance problems. In essence, they separate the signal from the noise. For more, read Opens external link in new windowWhy Advanced Multiple Mycotoxin Detection Matters.

Biomarker analysis has become an important tool for understanding animals’ exposure to mycotoxins and the efficacy of mycotoxin deactivators. Here’s Opens external link in new windowan article we wrote on biomarkers for mycotoxins.

4. Success stories and new promising techniques

There are plenty of efforts underway to impede the production of mycotoxins and handle contaminated crops, and, like everything these days, those tools are moving to cloud-based platforms. “The future need to combat mycotoxins has been clearly identified not just in livestock feed, but also in other areas such as the production of bioethanol and DDGS, along with food processing. To date, biotransformation is the only technology with demonstrated effectiveness in such a broad range of applications that has been shown to counteract mycotoxins.,” remarked Dr. Christina Schwab, Mycotoxin Risk Management Product Manager at BIOMIN, recapping a key element of her presentation at WMFmeetsIUPAC 2016.

5. Need for integrated approaches

Going beyond field-to-fork with multi-actor efforts sounds like a tall order, but it’s already underway and Opens external link in new windowBIOMIN is playing a role in an EU-funded project aimed at eliminating €3 billion in crop losses due to mycotoxin contamination.

Future weapons to combat mycotoxins: news from the posters

Together with speakers coming from all over the world, the WMF featured an interesting poster session, where many novel approaches and challenging research projects were displayed. A great variety of posters focused on enzymatic mycotoxin detoxification strategies, clearly indicating how enzymes will most likely be the future weapon of choice in the battle against mycotoxins. Plant protection is gaining more attention as well, and interesting projects are developing in that direction too. For instance, I was quite impressed when I saw a brilliant poster focusing on the use of endophytes (bacteria that live inside plants in some sort of symbiosis) as bioprotective agents to counter Fusarium infections. This innovative study was conducted by the University of Gueplh, Canada and could represent a different angle to develop new weapons in our daily fight against mycotoxins. BIOMIN and Romer Labs, both part of Erber Group, were gold sponsor of the biennial World Mycotoxin Forum in 2012, 2014 and 2016.