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Toxin binders

Mycotoxin deactivators in aquaculture feed

Mycotoxins are a relatively new topic in aquaculture. Aquaculture producers are increasingly recognizing the harmful effects of mycotoxins in fish and shrimp, along with the need for monitoring and mitigation as part of a complete mycotoxin risk management program.  

When it comes to counteracting mycotoxins, the aquaculture industry typically relies on conventional mycotoxin binders, though these are not as effective as a combined approach that includes binding, biotransformation and bioprotection. 

Definition of a toxin binder

In agriculture, a toxin binder refers to a substance added to aquafeed in minute quantities that is able to neutralize or immobilize harmful chemicals, mycotoxins or endotoxins (lipopolysaccharides) within an animal’s gastrointestinal tract, thus avoiding negative consequences.  

Mycotoxin binders can be considered a subset of the more general toxin binder category, though the two terms are often used interchangeably.

Michele Muccio, Regional Product Manager Mycotoxins at BIOMIN, explains how mycotoxin binders work, how effective they are and how to achieve absolute protection.

Binder materials 

Certain materials are better at binding than others. Examples of binder materials include:  

  • Silicates  
  • Clays e.g. bentonite 
  • Yeast  
  • Charcoal  

Adsorption 

Binders bind contaminants by trapping them in a clay or other porous material in a process known as adsorption. The addition of adsorbent (binder) materials to animal feeds is very common for the prevention of mycotoxicosis, especially aflatoxicosis. Discover the common clinical signs and pathological lesions of mycotoxicoses in poultry.   

A mycotoxin binder binds to a mycotoxin such as aflatoxin, which has a polar and flat chemical structure, through adsorption.  Picture a sandwich. Aflatoxin is the meat, and the layers of the binding substance are the two slices of bread.  

Once the mycotoxin enters the binder layers, the electric force generated by the atoms of both compounds tightens the bond. While a good binder will immobilize aflatoxins and even endotoxins, there are other mycotoxins that cannot be bound, because their structures are less flat and less polar than aflatoxins. 

Adsorption

Evaluating binders  

When choosing a mycotoxin binder, look for one that’s specific—which means it only binds mycotoxins. A non-specific binder will adsorb other nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, reducing the nutritional value of your feed. 

In an evaluation of 300 commercially-available products tested for their adsorption capacity using the European Union Reference Laboratories (EURL) method, only high-quality bentonite was able to bind more than 90% of 4000 parts per billion of aflatoxin B1 at a pH of 5. 

The EURL method is based on a multi-year research project between BIOMIN and the Department of Agrobiotechnology (IFA Tulln), the world leader in research on fungi and mycotoxins. It identified five key characteristics required for an effective mycotoxin binder. Read more on the truth about mycotoxin binders and the criteria for choosing a good binder.  

Trichothecenes such as deoxynivalenol, fumonisins and zearalenone require other mitigation strategies. 

Figure 1. Adsorption efficacy of different mycotoxins
Figure 1. Adsorption efficacy of different mycotoxins. Adsorption is a suitable strategy for aflatoxins, ergot alkaloids and ochratoxins, but it is not an efficient method to counteract trichothecenes, fumonisins and zearalenone.

State-of-the-art mycotoxin deactivation 

While binders represent the most common, conventional form of mycotoxin control, the limitations on what can be bound has led to newer, more effective methods to mitigate the effects of mycotoxins, such as bioprotection and biotransformation. 

Biotransformation 

Biotransformation is the future of mycotoxin risk management. It works by transforming non-adsorbable mycotoxins into harmless substances without any side effects for livestock by altering the physical structure of mycotoxins. 

BIOMIN has successfully pioneered the development and commercialization of biotransforming agents of various kinds, including: 

  • A microogranism that produces enzymes which detoxifies tricothecenes
  • A purified enzyme that bio­transforms fumonisins into non-toxic metabolites (Figure 2) 

These innovations are available within our mycotoxin risk management solutions. 

Biotransformation
Figure 2. FUMzyme® detoxifies fumonisin molecules by cleaving the two tricarballylic acid side chains.
Figure 2. FUMzyme® detoxifies fumonisin molecules by cleaving the two tricarballylic acid side chains.

Bioprotection 

Bioprotection relies on a scientifically proven blend of carefully selected plant and algae extracts to boost animals’ liver and immune function in order to help animals cope with the negative effects of mycotoxins. 

Bioprotection

Best-in-class protection 

A mycotoxin deactivator such as Mycofix® that combines all three strategies —adsorption, biotransformation and bioprotection— offers the most complete coverage against the negative effects of mycotoxins.  

Solutions

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