Laboratory of Mycotoxicological Testing

Laboratory of mycotoxicological testing was founded in 2011. Capital equipment for these investigations was procured under funding for two research sub-projects within the STAR project of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management of the Republic of Serbia. The projects were focused on the analysis and improvement of animal nutrition in Serbia, designed and successfully implemented during 2010-2011, under the leadership of Dr. Miloš Lukić (nutrition of non-ruminant animals) and Dr. Željko Novaković (nutrition of ruminants). Also, Dr. Vesna S. Krnjaja contributed to the establishment and development of the laboratory, on the basis of experience in mycotoxicological trials, gained during study visits in the country and abroad.

In the Laboratory of mycotoxicological testing of the Institute for Animal Husbandry, using competitive enzyme linked immune-adsorbant methods (ELISA – Enzyme-Linked Immuno Sorbent Assay), which are outside the scope of accreditation of the Institute’s laboratory, the content of mycotoxins deoxynivalenol (DON), zearalenone (ZON), T-2 toxin, total aflatoxins, aflatoxin B1 (AFB1), ochratoxin A (OTA) and total fumonisins (FBs) is determined in maize and other grains used as basic components of animal feed and other types of animal feed.

Mycotoxins are a group of structurally diverse secondary metabolites of fungi (moulds), which most often occur as contaminants of different grain and other feed components. Climatic conditions and growing grain on large areas in Serbia are suitable for development of numerous toxigenic species such as Fusarium spp., Aspergillus spp. and Penicillium spp., and as a result the contamination of feed by their toxic products is frequent. Zearalenone and trichothecenes of type A (T-2 toxin), and much less trichothecenes of type B (DON) or fumonisins, are the most studied and analysed mycotoxins produced by Fusarium species, in Serbia. In recent years these mycotoxins have received increased attention given to their producers are widespread and toxigenic. Aflatoxins are a group of chemically related and very toxic compounds primarily produced by species of Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus. Among the identified aflatoxins, AFB1 is the most widespread. AFB1 is carcinogenic and hepatotoxin (accumulates in the liver). Aflatoxin M1 (AFM1) is so called „milk toxin“, which occurs by metabolizing AFB1 in the liver of dairy animals, and mostly is recorded in milk, although it can be found in the liver, kidneys and urine. Ochratoxin is biosynthesized by fungi of the genera Aspergillus and Penicillium.
Mycotoxins can cause health disorders in all animals, and the effects are usually more noticeable in highly productive animals housed and reared on farms due to significantly greater consumption of feed. In animals and humans mycotoxins cause disease called mycotoxicosis. Consumption of food contaminated with mycotoxins can have acute and chronic effects that may be teratogenic, carcinogenic, neurotoxic and estrogenic or immunosuppressive in humans and/or animals.

In livestock production, DON and ZON are the major inducers of reproductive disorders and estrogenism in pigs. T-2 toxin is a major problem in poultry production as the agent of the weakening of the immune system and reducing the productivity of meat and eggs. AFB1 is the main hepatotoxin causing various pathological effects on organs and tissues. OTA is nephrotoxin and carcinogenic. FBs (fumonisins B1, B2 and B3) are potential carcinogens and neurotoxins known as causers of equine leukoencephalomalacia (ELEM) in horses.

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