Main research question/goal
The goal of this multidisciplinary study is to develop methods that allow the detection, identification and quantification of moulds and their mycotoxins in silage. Moulds may grow on corn plants in the field (preharvest) or grow on/in the maize silage itself (for example after exposure of the silo to oxygen). In addition to spoilage, these moulds may produce mycotoxins. These toxins may pose a risk for the animal (growth, immunity, fertility, digestion, …) when being fed with such mycotoxin-contaminated silage. The (fast and reliable) detection of mycotoxins in silage is an important step in taking measures that will improve animal welfare, health and production.Research approach
We are taking silage samples at different farms. We are looking for a suitable isolation and enumeration medium for moulds present in silage. In addition, we are developing molecular methods to identify and characterize mould species, and also developing a chemical analytical method to detect and quantify different mycotoxins in maize silage, i.e. an “Ultra High Performance Liquid Chromatography-tandem mass spectrometric“ (UHPLC-MS/MS) method. Such a multidisciplinary approach leads to fast and reliable methods for detecting moulds and mycotoxins in maize silage.Relevance/Valorisation
This research has led to a clear methodological improvement, and has increased the knowledge on moulds and mycotoxins present in maize silage. An UHPLC-MS/MS method has been developed to enable the simultaneous detection and quantification of more than 20 different mycotoxins in maize silage. DRBC, Dichloran Rose-Bengal Chloramphenicol is the most suitable medium for the study of moulds present in fermented silage. The identification of the moulds indicates that Penicillium paneum, Penicillium roqueforti and Aspergillus fumigatus are the most prevalent mould species in silage. To a lower degree, we also found Penicillium carneum, Aspergillus versicolor, Aspergillus niger, Monascus, Paecilomyces, Trichoderma, Fusarium, Alternaria and other species.