MYCOHUNT

Rapid biosensor for the detection of mycotoxin in wheat

Mycohunt
Type of the activity: Applied research project

Financing: 7th European Commission Framework programme for the benefit of SME-AGs under grant agreement n°286522

Duration of the project: 01/09/2010- 31/08/2013

Background

Most mycotoxins are known to hazardously contaminate crops and consequently animal feeds and animal products, causing significant economic losses associated with their impact on animal and human health, animal productivity and domestic and international trade. While the economic effects are not easily calculated due to the several participants in the grain sector, European Union is setting stricter and stricter limits of mycotoxin concentrations. Deoxynivalenol also known as DON or vomitoxin is one of about 150 related compounds known as the trichothecenes that are formed by a number of species of Fusarium and some other fungi. It is nearly always formed before harvest when crops are invaded by certain species of Fusarium such as F. graminearum and F. culmorum.

The MYCOHUNT project aims at increasing the competitiveness of a large group of SMEs by developing a cost-effective method to detect infection of DON in wheat grains, a major threat to the food and feed sector of the European industry. A group of SME Associations, covering the two sectors and representing vast number of SMEs, have put together this project in order to gain knowledge and resources to further exploit the results of the novel technology proposed by providing a thorough sampling and measurement method of grain.

The economic consequences of mycotoxin infection to animal husbandry and the cost of infected crop to farmers as well as mill and storage house owners are of increasing concern while human health and safety effects are and must be addressed additionally.

Project description

Objectives

TECHNOLOGICAL OBJECTIVES

  • To develop effective, non-destructive sampling apparatus in order to assure adequately representative measurement aiming at 90% correlation with the bulk samples.
  • To assess detection limit of 50 ppb, efficacy, specificity and sensitivity of the sensor
  • To develop a data evaluation algorithms and to set up correlation databases
  • To develop the ‘plug & play’ disposable cartridge to house the antibody-binding assay

SCIENTIFIC OBJECTIVES

  • The understanding and determination of parameters (temperature, pressure, vacuum, etc) affecting the sampling precision avoiding the damaging of grain.
  • To develop immobilising methods for sensitive antibodies, and assess different approaches to enhance sensitivity, reproducibility, life-time, detection range, detection limit, and/or other specifications.
  • The investigation of the cross-reactivity of other trichothecenes such as 3-acetyl-DON, 15-acetyl-DON, nivalenol, etc.

ECONOMIC OBJECTIVE

  • To realize a commercial price for the sensor while keeping the price of the whole apparatus low.

TRAINING, DISSEMINATION AND EXPLOITATION OBJECTIVES

  • The development of training activities addressed to the SME members of the SME-AGs, first in pre-validation stage in order to ensure the understanding of the technology operation before the partners initiate the validation tasks.
  • Technology transfer will be carried out to present the project results.
  • To develop a sound dissemination plan to deliver at least 4 workshops, presenting the results of the project in European conferences and specialised magazines

Project outcome

The main achievements of this project are so far:

  • The MYCOHUNT system was fully designed reflecting the content of the system specification with the assistance of SME Association and SME partners.
  • The MYCOHUNT concept of testing DON from wheat dust has been proven via defining the correlation between DON found in wheat grain samples and in wheat dust samples.
  • DON selective antibodies have been developed to be used in the immunosensor for DON detection. Assay development and characterization for the immunosensor is under progress.
  • The components of the prototype have been constructed. The physical realization and the integration of the complete system including the sampling unit, the sensor unit and their control system are under development and will be installed at the end-user facilities to continue with the prototype demonstration.

Main partners

The MYCOHUNT consortium coordinated by MFKK Invention and Research Center Services Co. Ltd includes 18 partners (SME associations, research centres, universities and private SME companies) from 10 EU countries, involved in the cereals sector.

Project team

Coordination:

Scientific and Technical project coordinator: Ms. Emese Karácsonyi
Administrative and Financial project coordinator: Mr. Attila Uderszky
MFKK Invention and Research Center Services Co. Ltd
Tétényi út 84-86
H-1119 Budapest
Tel: +36 1 787 4024 /327
Fax: +36 1 787 4390
Email: mycohunt@mfkk.hu
Web site: http://www.mycohunt.eu