Wonderful World of Fungal Toxins – Dr. Duarte Diaz, University of Arizona

Posted: June 21, 2022


Dr. Duarte Diaz, University of Arizona; Dr. Lon Whitlow, North Carolina State University; Dr. Clay Zimmerman, Balchem Corporation

Episode 46: Wonderful World of Fungal Toxins

Podcast Topic

There are a few things present in almost all environments and one of them is mold. Today on the Real Science Exchange we talk about molds and toxins in agriculture and the opportunity they have to impact the health and profitability of animals and crops.


Dr. Diaz begins by saying molds that produce toxins will grow in a building off of air particles because they are pretty adaptable. They can find a way to enter a system and produce toxins. (17:21)

Dr. Whitlow mentioned molds cause problems in addition to mycotoxins. As the mold grows, it will use some of the nutrients and the feed will have less nutritional value. In some cases, molds may use individual amino acids, so it could change the amino acid profile. (29:31)

Dr. Diaz recommends building a risk assessment model that takes into account the commodities you feed, where they’re coming from and how much of your total diet is made up of this ingredient. You use those data points to decide when to take a sample and see what is being brought in. (38:51)

Dr. Whitlow said one of the biggest effects of mycotoxins is suppressing the immune system. Dry cows are already immune suppressed so if you add the mycotoxin on top of that they don’t have any chance of getting started. You’ve got to keep clean feed in front of the dry cows and the calves. Calves don’t have the functional rumen which allows them to destroy mycotoxins. (51:55)

Dr. Whitlow emphasizes that for dairy farms management needs to be a big emphasis. Planting and harvesting at the correct time and rotating crops is vital. We know continuous corn will create more mold problems. In addition, follow best management practices for silage making and storage to reduce mold. (1:13:56)

Dr. Diaz summarizes by saying he would like to see more work on the identification of biomarkers of exposure. If we are better able to identify exposure to toxins through animal tissues or samples, we would eliminate errors associated with sampling. We would also have a solid diagnostic tool. Ideally, we’d get to a point where we can do diagnostics on-farm. (1:18:37)

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This podcast is sponsored by Balchem Animal Nutrition and Health. This podcast is sponsored by Balchem. All views expressed by the guests are the opinions of those individuals and are not the views of the Balchem, its affiliates or employees.