Pesticide use and mycotoxin production in Fusarium and Aspergillus Phytopathogens

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The major mycotoxigenic species of Fusarium and Aspergillus phytopathogens have been identified in this review. Since fungicides are widely used to control crop diseases caused by these fungi, it is pertinent to assess efficacy with respect to mycotoxin production. In both laboratory studies with pure cultures of phytopathogens and field trials with crop plants, the overall evidence concerning the effectiveness of fungicides is contradictory and in certain cases somewhat unexpected. In particular, at sub-lethal doses of a number of fungicides including carbendazim, tridemorph, difenoconazole and tebuconazole with triadimenol, mycotoxin production from Fusarium phytopathogens may increase. Furthermore, the efficacy of propiconazole and thiabendazole in the control of deoxynivalenol production from F.graminearum is not consistent. Evidence has been presented to suggest, for the first time, that fungicide-resistance in F.culmorum may be accompanied by a more persistent pattern of mycotoxin production. The limited evidence on the effects of fungicides on mycotoxin production in Aspergillus species is also conflicting. Under laboratory conditions, miconazole and fenpropimorph have been shown to increase aflatoxin production from A.parasiticus. Moreover, fenpropimorph increased production of the more toxic aflatoxin B1. Since fungal infection of plant products is often preceded by insect damage, there is interest in the effectiveness of insecticides to reduce infestation, infection and mycotoxin contamination. Additionally, insecticides may be effective in their own right, causing a direct effect on mycotoxin synthesis. The bulk of the evidence relates to effects on aflatoxin (AF) components B1, B2, G1 and G2. Under laboratory conditions, AFB1 production was most resistant to inhibition by insecticides, followed by AFG1, AFG2 and AFB2. This pattern of inhibition was particularly consistent for the organophosphorus insecticides. In one field study, Bux and carbaryl were considerably more effective than naled in reducing AFB1 contamination of maize kernels. It is concluded that if pesticide control is to be more effective in the future, additional criteria may be required in developing evaluation protocols for candidate compounds. In particular, the issue of fungicide-resistance in relation to mycotoxin production needs to be addressed in a concerted programme of research. Additionally, the potential of breeding and selecting cultivars resistant to disease caused by toxigenic fungi needs to be exploited in a parallel search for an environmentally acceptable solution to the question of mycotoxin contamination of plant products.

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