Raman spectral analysis for rapid determination of zearalenone and alpha-zearalanol

Spectrochim Acta A Mol Biomol Spectrosc. 2022 Apr 5;270:120842. doi: 10.1016/j.saa.2021.120842. Epub 2022 Jan 3.


Mycotoxins, including zearalenone, are important natural products produced by fungi that occasionally contaminate agricultural commodities and pose serious health risks to consumers of food and feed. Zearalenone and its metabolite, α-zearalanol, are of significant concern due to their estrogenic and anabolic steroid activity. Several governments have regulatory standards and advisory guidelines for zearalenone and α-zearalanol. Raman and ultraviolet spectroscopy were employed with density functional theory methods to evaluate spectroscopic properties to distinguish between zearalenone and α-zearalanol systematically. Raman bands were assigned based on vibrational frequency calculations. A portable Raman spectroscopy instrument (785 nm laser) distinguished between zearalenone and α-zearalanol in a label-free manner. Many vibrational bands of zearalenone and α-zearalanol are similar, including high-intensity peaks at 1315 cm-1 and 1650 cm-1. However, the intensities in the Raman spectra at 1465 cm-1, 1495 cm-1, and 1620 cm-1 enabled the identification of zearalenone. The Raman peak at 1450 cm-1 is associated with α-zearalanol. These vibrational bands serve as spectral indicators to differentiate between the structurally similar zearalenone and α-zearalanol.

Keywords: Density functional theory; Food safety; Mycotoxin; Portable spectroscopy; Raman spectroscopy.

MeSH terms

  • Fungi
  • Mycotoxins*
  • Spectrum Analysis, Raman
  • Zearalenone*
  • Zeranol*


  • Mycotoxins
  • Zearalenone
  • Zeranol