Project Number: 3620-42000-042-00
Start Date: Jan 19, 2011
End Date: Jan 18, 2016
With a growing world population, access to safe food for all consumers, both domestic and international, will continue to be a global priority. In recent years, the world has experienced an increase in mycotoxin contamination of grains due to climatic and agronomic changes that encourage fungal growth during cultivation. One approach to reduce mycotoxin contamination of food and feed is to prevent preharvest infection of crop plants by mycotoxin-producing fungi. An alternative approach is to modify mycotoxins present in crops in order to render them nontoxic and safe for consumption by humans and animals. Fusarium head blight (FHB) is one of the most important diseases of wheat and other cereal grains worldwide. It reduces yield and quality and results in contamination of grain with trichothecene mycotoxins. The disease is caused by Fusarium graminearum as well as other trichothecene-producing species of Fusarium. The primary goal of the proposed research is to reduce levels of trichothecenes and other mycotoxins through studies that reveal how plants, the fungus Fusarium, and mycotoxins interact during infection. We expect to identify novel genes that modify, detoxify, or otherwise confer resistance to mycotoxins and to study the physiological and molecular role of mycotoxin production on the ability of Fusarium to infect wheat and other crops. We also will examine the genetic bases and ecological significance of variation in types of mycotoxins produced by Fusarium. Knowledge from these studies will contribute to development of strategies to control FHB, thereby protecting our food supply from mycotoxins. This technology will ultimately benefit other scientists, small grain breeders, stakeholders in the food and feed industry, and regulatory agencies such as the Center for Disease Control, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Federal Grain Inspection Service, and Food Safety Inspection Service.