The MyToolBox coordinator, Prof. Rudolf Krska, gave a lecture on "Emerging toxins and how to manage them" and presented MyToolBox as a new field-to-fork approach to reduce mycotoxins along food and feed chains.
In a recent publication, Kovalsky and colleagues stressed the urgency to fight mycotoxins: With latest mycotoxin contamination data of globally sampled feed material analysed during the last couple of years, it is clear that “[…] considerably more than the FAO suggested figure of 25% of global agricultural commodities are contaminated with mycotoxins”. In fact, up to 80% of agricultural products are estimated to be contaminated with mycotoxins or other secondary metabolites of fungi. As health risks prevail, uncertainty of mycotoxin occurrence, toxicity of emerging or masked mycotoxins, and the cocktail-effect of multiple mycotoxins in products still pose a major challenge in mycotoxin research.
On December 2nd, 2016, Prof. Rudolf Krska presented the project at the International Symposium of Mycotoxicology 2016, under the auspices of the Japanese Society of Mycotoxicology in Tokyo, Japan. By showing the opportunities of mycotoxin reduction strategies along the food and feed chain, MyToolBox contributed to the mutual understanding of mycotoxin problems in Asia.
As invited guest speaker for the mycotoxin expert session, Prof. Rudolf Krska also got the opportunity to present the MyToolBox project at the 2016 World Nutrition Forum. The Forum offers industry professionals the opportunity to explore the factors driving the protein economy, its trajectory and future. Besides species-specific breakout sessions, it featured a top-class mycotoxin expert session during which key research findings and the application of the latest technologies in mycotoxin deactivation was discussed. Another highlight of the Forum is honoring ground-breaking innovation in livestock health and nutrition with the B.R.A.I.N. award – which was awarded to Prof. Krska during this year’s forum for his ambitions and achievements in mycotoxin research.
The Project Management Board (PMB), consisting of the Coordinator, Co-Coordinator, Project Manager, Work Package (WP) leaders, the Deputy WP leaders from WP 2 and 3, met in person at the facilities of DLO-RIKILT from October 6 – 7, 2016. Besides discussions on the project’s past and future progress, the PMB members could tour the World Soil museum at the Wageningen University. It not only offered a glimpse into the functions of soil for agricultural production, but also provided a good example of the use of ICT tools for providing detailed, local information of the sample.
The first scientific publication related to MyToolBox was published in the World Mycotoxin Journal in October 2016: “Safe food and feed through an integrated toolbox for mycotoxin management: the MyToolBox approach”. It discusses the scientific methods and objectives applied along the entire food and feed chain.
In order to identify products to be used for the control of Fusarium mycotoxins in small grain cereals, including control suitable for organic farming, two field trials of oats were conducted at the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO) in Norway summer 2016. One of the trials was inoculated with Fusarium graminearum infested oat grains. After a few weeks, a large amount of black perithecia (fruiting bodies of the fungus) were developing on the infested grains, just in time to spread F. graminearum ascospores to the oat flowers. The weather at oat flowering was warm and rainy, which gave perfect conditions for the development and dispersal of F. graminearum ascospores, and further for the infection and development of Fusarium mycotoxins in oats. After flowering, salmon coloured sporodochia of F. graminearum were observed on some of the oat spikelets (Picture 1).
During a face-to-face meeting at Schipol Skyport offices, The Netherlands, Ine van der Fels, Paulien Adamse and Louise Camenzuli from RIKILT, Vittorio Rossi, Valentina Manstretta and Tiziano Bettati from HORTA and Edurne Gaston and Jose Antonio Ibarra from IRIS discussed the design and first steps towards the development of the MYTOOLBOX e-platform. This e-platform will provide users with information, tools and guidance concerning actions that can be taken to reduce fungal contamination and lead to reduction in levels of mycotoxins in the food and feed chains. It is envisaged that the alpha version of the MYTOOLBOX e-platform will be available for testing in June 2017.
Maize is growing fast on the Serbian fields for the MyToolBox project, thanks to proper and timely pest- and weed-control on the fields from Agrocentrum in Bečej, Serbia. By mid July 2016 the plants were found to be ready for the next step: Testing pre-defined, local non-toxic Aspergillus flavus strains - a fungi who is known for producing aflatoxins, among others. For doing so, students and staff from the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Novi Sad (PFNS), Serbia, joined Agrocentrum for inoculating defined plots with locally sourced atoxigenic Aspergillus flavus strains. With these measures, MyToolBox will gather new insight into the efficacy of local biocontrol mechanisms for Serbian maize-producers.