Perfume Guns: Potential of Yeast Volatile Organic Compounds in the Biological Control of Mycotoxin-Producing Fungi

Toxins (Basel). 2023 Jan 5;15(1):45. doi: 10.3390/toxins15010045.


Pathogenic fungi in the genera Alternaria, Aspergillus, Botrytis, Fusarium, Geotrichum, Gloeosporium, Monilinia, Mucor, Penicillium, and Rhizopus are the most common cause of pre- and postharvest diseases of fruit, vegetable, root and grain commodities. Some species are also able to produce mycotoxins, secondary metabolites having toxic effects on human and non-human animals upon ingestion of contaminated food and feed. Synthetic fungicides still represent the most common tool to control these pathogens. However, long-term application of fungicides has led to unacceptable pollution and may favour the selection of fungicide-resistant mutants. Microbial biocontrol agents may reduce the incidence of toxigenic fungi through a wide array of mechanisms, including competition for the ecological niche, antibiosis, mycoparasitism, and the induction of resistance in the host plant tissues. In recent years, the emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) has been proposed as a key mechanism of biocontrol. Their bioactivity and the absence of residues make the use of microbial VOCs a sustainable and effective alternative to synthetic fungicides in the management of postharvest pathogens, particularly in airtight environments. In this review, we will focus on the possibility of applying yeast VOCs in the biocontrol of mycotoxigenic fungi affecting stored food and feed.

Keywords: antagonistic microorganisms; biological control; microbial volatilome; mycotoxins; postharvest pathogens; toxigenic fungi; volatile organic compounds; yeast.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alternaria / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Firearms*
  • Fungi / metabolism
  • Fungicides, Industrial* / pharmacology
  • Mycotoxins* / metabolism
  • Perfume*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism
  • Volatile Organic Compounds* / metabolism
  • Volatile Organic Compounds* / pharmacology


  • Mycotoxins
  • Volatile Organic Compounds
  • Perfume
  • Fungicides, Industrial

Grant support

This study was carried out within the Agritech National Research Center and received funding from the European Union Next-GenerationEU (PIANO NAZIONALE DI RIPRESA E RESILIENZA (PNRR)—MISSIONE 4 COMPONENTE 2, INVESTIMENTO 1.4—D.D. 1032 17/06/2022, CN00000022). Additional funding sources: EU H2020 EWA-BELT project [862848] “Linking East and West African farming systems experience into a BELT of sustainable intensification” coordinated by the Desertification Research Centre of the University of Sassari; Qatar National Research Fund (a member of Qatar Foundation), Food Security Call QNRF-MME Joint Funding, proposal MME03-1115-210017 “Sustainable biocontrol approaches for horticultural crops in Qatar (SABAH)” This manuscript reflects only the authors’ views and opinions, neither the European Union nor the European Commission can be considered responsible for them.