2017 Volume 67 Issue 1 Pages 11-16
Mycotoxins are toxic fungal metabolites, occurring on a wide range of agricultural products. Several research projects, including the recently started European project “MyToolBox”, aim for integrated approaches - combining pre- and post-harvest measures with efficient monitoring tools for control. The latter is crucial to provide food safety for the consumers and to determine the efficacy of mitigation measures to reduce mycotoxins. Analytical chemistry, in particular mass spectrometry, has evolved with a tremendous pace. While years ago, only single toxins could be measured, a clear trend is towards multi-toxin methods, providing a far more detailed picture. One example is a multi-analyte LC-MS/MS method which has recently been developed by us and which is capable of determining some 380 fungal, bacterial and plant metabolites, respectively, in cultures, cereals, food and feed products. LC-MS- based screening has also been playing a vital role in the discovery of novel mycotoxin conjugates - so called “masked” - forms of mycotoxins.
Metabolomics has emerged as the latest of the so-called -omics disciplines and shows great potential to determine hundreds to thousands of metabolites at once over a wide range of concentrations. After measurement of biological/food samples treated with a 1+1 mixture of labelled and non-labelled precursors, labelling-specific isotopic patterns can be reliably and automatically detected by means of the novel software tool (“MetExtract”). In a preliminary study, the great potential of the presented approach is further underlined by the successful and automated detection of novel plant-derived biotransformation products of the most prevalent Fusarium mycotoxin deoxynivalenol.