MyToolBox dissemination activity in Brussels:
pre-harvest-WP-leader Simon Edwards, Deputy-Coordinator Monique de Nijs and Coordinator Rudi Krska proudly representing MyToolBox at the Mycotoxins Stakeholder Forum on May 14th, 2018
Shenzhen, China, 28.11.2017 MyToolBox coordinator Rudolf Krska gives a talk during the EU-China FAB-flagship initiative workshop in Shenzhen on invitation by the European Commission in cooperation with the Ministry of Science and Technology, China operation on the subject: Contribution of MyToolBox to the overall picture/policy of EU-China-cooperations. Read more
Development of real-time post-harvest environmental monitoring systems for storage of cereals
Throughout the summer, Barilla constructed the experimental silos for the test-run of the real-time monitoring systems that were developed by IRIS and Cranfield University (see story). And, in August 2017, the researchers from Cranfield University went to Barilla in Parma, Italy, to install and monitor these pilot scale silos. The system is based on the real-time monitoring of CO2, RH and temperature, which will be tested by comparing and evaluating both indoor and outdoor storage conditions, and simulating the effects of a real harvesting campaign . While the first tests are finished, they are continuing for the next few months..
The real-time physical measurements received from these tests will be linked to the biological models of quality loss (dry matter loss) in relation to mycotoxin contamination relevant to the EU legislative limits (e.g. ZEN, OTA in wheat; fumonisins and aflatoxins in maize; aflatoxins in peanuts), and to the scenarios growth/no growth and mycotoxin/no mycotoxin boundary conditions for better post-harvest management of these commodities.
These activities are all contributing to the objective of Work Package 2: To develop real-time environmental monitoring systems for storage of cereals and peanuts to facilitate effective integrated control of moulds, mycotoxins and pest activitiy for integration into a Decision Support System (DSS) of the web-based MyToolBox for post-harvest storage managers.
1st Mycokey-MyToolBox Conference on Mycotoxins, Ghent University, Belgium 11-14th September, 2017
The recent conference held at Ghent University provided an excellent opportunity to showcase the advances already being made by partners involved in MyToolBox. Prof. Rudi Krska presented a keynote talk highlighting the significant advances made in the different Work Packages so far even though the project has been running for only 18 months. These included the development of atoixgenic strains of A.flavus for control of aflatoxins in maize which is being patented (WP1) for application in Serbia, the developments in the real time post-harvest Decision Support System for mycotoxin management using pilot scale silos at Barilla in Parma Italy (WP2), the development of novel processing approaches to minimise mycotoxins entering the food chain (WP2), the alternative uses of contaminated batches (WP2), on-going development of the e-platform with dynamic and static information for real time use by stakeholders (WP3 and WP4) including interaction with various stake holder groups, In addition to this overall presentation of the highlights so far in the first 18 months, individual partners also presented their research advances in the more detailed scientific parallel sessions.
For example, Ms Esmee Janssen and colleagues (Wageningen University) presented the initial findings of surveys with regard to EU farmers approaches to improving mycotoxin management. Dr. Michael Sulyok (BOKU) presented his recent developments in the use of LC-MS methods for multi-mycotoxin analysisand their application for feed matrices. Dr Esther Garcia-Cela and colleagues (Cranfield University) demonstrated the potential for using CO2 as an early indicator of post-harvest spoilage in wheat by Fusarium graminearum and the production of Zearalenone (ZEN). This demonstrated that by using the physical measurements is was possible to correlate this with relative dry matter losses and evaluate in real-time whether there is a low, medium or high risk of contamination exceeding the EU legislative limits. Dr Michele Surman (Barilla) demonstrated the potential of using different pre-milling and processing approaches for synergistic effects to minimise mycotoxins entering the food chain. The potential for use of at risk batches of mycotoxin contaminated cereals for bioethanol production by adding detoxifying enzymes was presented by Daniela Kotz and colleagues (BIOMIN) which is on-going.
A key part of the e-platform is pre-harvest modelling for assisting stakeholders to effectively use real-time dynamic data for determining risks of mycotoxin contamination and thus timing of spray applications to control Fusarium infection in cereals. Dr. Cheng Liu and Dr. Ine van der Fels-Klerx (Rikilt Wageningen Research) and Prof. Vittorio Rossi (HORTA) presented data on the development of predictive models for Fusarium infection preharvest and potential for contamination with type A trichothecenes especially Deoxynivalenol. In addition, MyToolBox partners were involved in discussions with MycoKey partners in relevant Work Packages to ensure that work being carried out was complimentary and that, where possible, collaborative initiatives could be followed up in the future.
A poster on the overall MyToolBox project was presented. In addition Dr. Esther Garcia-Cela and colleagues from Cranfield University presented a poster entitled “Modelling Fusarium graminearum growth and zearalenone (ZON) production boundary conditions, respiration and dry matter losses for development of a post-harvest Decision Support System in stored cereals”. This is background knowledge which will be used to build the boundary models for growth and ZON production in wheat which will be linked to the real time physical measurements in grain silos being developed in WP 2.1 in collaboration with IRIS and IFA-Tulln.
Cereals 2017 which is a major agricultural show held annually in the UK, provided a unique opportunity for two of the MyToolBox work package leaders to have face-to-face interactions with UK farmers. Harper Adams University, as a project partner, kindly incorporated a MyToolBox banner outside its tented display area, and with a key position along a main thoroughfare the ‘REDUCE MYCOTOXINS, INCREASE PROFITS’ roll-up caught the eye of some of the 25,000 predominantly farmer participants during the 2-days event on June 14/15th 2017. In discussions it was obvious that farmers had very different levels of awareness of mycotoxins in their cereals, but all were interested in access to tools to improve their decision making abilities, being acutely aware of the importance of fungicide spraying at the optimum time. Apart from the developments in classical farm machinery, technological innovations whether from the use of drones in precision farming and robotic spraying of crops to developments in DNA technology to improve cereal varieties, there are clear indications that farmers are very open to the use of smart tools and MyToolBox will have an important part to play in future cereal farming.
This article provides an overview of the different types of additives intended for use in animal feed for mycotoxin detoxification, and explains how the EU requires risk assessment by EFSA to demonstrate safety and efficacy. Read more.
After measuring the fields in spring this year, Agrocentrum, led by Helena Stanko sowed maize on a total of 3.5 ha in Becej, Serbia on April 28, 2017. It is developing well, only a few weed sprays and two insect sprays were necessary due to an attack of maize leaf weevil - Tanymecus dilaticollis.
Some plots in Agrocentrum’s field were treated with atoxigenic Aspergillus strains that were identified by Prof. Ferenc Bagi’s team from PFNS in 2016. Such atoxigenic strains could be used for outcompeting toxigenic strains in the field. The treated plots were marked with a T, while the non-treated plots were marked as NT. These marks allow identifying the dissipated seeds with spores of atoxic Aspergillus.
Mycotoxin contamination of cereals is one of the most significant issues worldwide and huge efforts are being put into defining successful and effective managing strategies. Ever since the idea of MyToolBox was born, members of the team from the PFNS (University of Novi Sad, Faculty of Agriculture, Serbia) dedicated themselves to completing tasks that will lead to reduction of mycotoxin contamination. It is not often that we get an opportunity to be a part of a global team of experts and institutions, so our motivation derived from the possibility to make good networking, but most of all, to give our contribution to solving aflatoxin contamination problem in maize production which was the major problem in 2012 in Serbia, said Dr. Ferenc Bagi, team leader for PFNS. Group of five scientists (four plant pathologists: Dr. Ferenc Bagi, Dr. Vera Stojšin, Dr. Mila Grahovac and Dr. Dragana Budakov and one mycotoxin specialist: Dr. Igor Jajić) together with administration staff (Dr. Dragana Savić and Sonja Vučinić), PhD students and technical staff are working on fulfillment of proposed tasks with one Serbian partner from the agricultural industry (Agrocentrum, Bečej, Serbia). Main responsibilities of PFNS consist of finding solutions to control mycotoxin contamination by using maize hybrids of different susceptibility to Aspergillus flavus ear rot. This investigation is done throughout field trials and maize ears are being artificially inoculated with the fungus. Even though this is both time and labor consuming work, it is highly satisfying to observe that different genetics react in a way to help select for more resistant maize genotypes. By the end of the project, it is expected to select for genetics that will be the least susceptible to A. flavus infections and hence mycotoxin contamination. The other part of PFNS project task is a selection of atoxigenic Aspergillus flavus which will be used as a biocontrol agent. This idea derived from a member of MyToolBox advisory consortia Dr. Peter Cotty, who did a lot of similar work throughout the whole world and who took over a responsibility to train staff from PFNS to select and apply for most effective biocontrol agent. During the training in Peter Cotty’s lab in Tucson, Arizona, USA, several isolates of atoxigenic Aspergillus flavus were targeted as possible biocontrol agents and one of them was selected to be tested for effectiveness during the first year of field trials. Even though results of first tests showed that mycotoxin contamination was significantly reduced in treated plots, PFNS team members are still working on evaluation of product efficacy through vegetative compatibility tests of isolates selected from treated fields.