Some major mycotoxins and their mycotoxicoses--an overview

Int J Food Microbiol. 2007 Oct 20;119(1-2):3-10. doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2007.07.019. Epub 2007 Jul 31.


Mycotoxins likely have existed for as long as crops have been grown but recognition of the true chemical nature of such entities of fungal metabolism was not known until recent times. Conjecturally, there is historical evidence of their presence back as far as the time reported in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Evidence of their periodic, historical occurrence exists until the recognition of aflatoxins in the early 1960s. At that time mycotoxins were considered as a storage phenomenon whereby grains becoming moldy during storage allowed for the production of these secondary metabolites proven to be toxic when consumed by man and other animals. Subsequently, aflatoxins and mycotoxins of several kinds were found to be formed during development of crop plants in the field. The determination of which of the many known mycotoxins are significant can be based upon their frequency of occurrence and/or the severity of the disease that they produce, especially if they are known to be carcinogenic. Among the mycotoxins fitting into this major group would be the aflatoxins, deoxynivalenol, fumonisins, zearalenone, T-2 toxin, ochratoxin and certain ergot alkaloids. The diseases (mycotoxicoses) caused by these mycotoxins are quite varied and involve a wide range of susceptible animal species including humans. Most of these diseases occur after consumption of mycotoxin contaminated grain or products made from such grains but other routes of exposure exist. The diagnosis of mycotoxicoses may prove to be difficult because of the similarity of signs of disease to those caused by other agents. Therefore, diagnosis of a mycotoxicoses is dependent upon adequate testing for mycotoxins involving sampling, sample preparation and analysis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aflatoxins / chemistry
  • Aflatoxins / toxicity
  • Animals
  • Edible Grain / chemistry
  • Edible Grain / microbiology
  • Ergot Alkaloids / chemistry
  • Ergot Alkaloids / toxicity
  • Food Contamination / prevention & control
  • Food Handling / methods*
  • Fungi / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mycotoxicosis / diagnosis*
  • Mycotoxins / biosynthesis
  • Mycotoxins / chemistry*
  • Mycotoxins / toxicity*
  • Ochratoxins / chemistry
  • Ochratoxins / toxicity
  • Trichothecenes / chemistry
  • Trichothecenes / toxicity


  • Aflatoxins
  • Ergot Alkaloids
  • Mycotoxins
  • Ochratoxins
  • Trichothecenes