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Keywords:

  • abiotic stress factors;
  • carbon dioxide;
  • climate change;
  • food security;
  • mycotoxigenic fungi;
  • temperature

This paper examines the available information on the potential for climate-change impacts on mycotoxigenic fungi and mycotoxin contamination of food crops pre- and postharvest. It considers the effect of changes in temperature/water availability on mycotoxin contamination, especially incidences where aflatoxin B1 and ochratoxin A production has been influenced. The potential of using preharvest models to predict risk from deoxynivalenol (DON) in wheat, fumonisin B1 in maize and aflatoxins in maize and peanuts in different continents are considered in the context of potential for adaptation to include climate-change scenarios. Available information suggests that slightly elevated CO2 concentrations and interactions with temperature and water availability may stimulate growth of some mycotoxigenic species, especially under water stress. The accumulated knowledge on interacting conditions of water/temperature effects on optimum and boundary conditions for growth and mycotoxin production has been used to predict the effects that +3 and +5°C increases under water stress would have on growth/mycotoxin production by mycotoxigenic species. Various spatial scales, from toxin gene expression to regional approaches using geostatistics, are examined for their use in understanding the impact that climate change may have on food contamination in developing and developed countries. The potential for using an integrated systems approach to link gene expression data, phenotypic toxin production under different interacting abiotic conditions is discussed using Fusarium species and DON as examples. Such approaches may be beneficial for more accurate predictions of risk from mycotoxins on a regional basis and also the potential for new emerging toxin threats.