Mycotoxins are important contaminants of food and feed. In this study, low fermenting yeast (Lachancea thermotolerans) and its derivatives were applied against toxigenic fungi and their mycotoxins. A. parasiticus, P. verrucosum and F. graminearum and their mycotoxins were exposed to yeast volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and cells, respectively. VOCs reduced significantly the fungal growth (up to 48%) and the sporulation and mycotoxin synthesis (up to 96%). Very interestingly, it was shown that even 7 yeast colonies reduced Fusarium’s growth and the synthesis of its mycotoxin, deoxynivalenol (DON). Moreover, decreasing yeast nutrient concentrations did not affect the inhibition of fungal growth, but reduced DON synthesis. In addition, inactivated yeast cells were able to remove up to 82% of the ochratoxin A (OTA). As an application of these findings, the potentialities of the VOCs to protect tomatoes inoculated with F. oxysporum was explored and showed that while in the presence of VOCs, no growth was observed of F. oxysporum on the inoculated surface areas of tomatoes, in the absence of VOCs, F. oxysporum infection reached up to 76% of the tomatoes’ surface areas. These results demonstrate that the application of yeasts and their derivatives in the agriculture and food industry might be considered as a very promising and safe biocontrol approach for food contamination.
Keywords: biological control; decontamination; food safety; mycotoxins; tomatoes; yeast.