Some Insect Pests Contribute To The Growth Of Deadly Toxins Found In Crop-Mold
You were probably already aware of several different ways in which insect pests harm the agricultural industry as well as consumers. Now you can add another damaging aspect of crop pests to your memory. Recent research has revealed that insect pests can spur the growth of a poisonous toxin in mold that is sometimes found on certain crop plants. The dangerous mold species is referred to as Aspergillus flavus and until recently, experts could not identify any factors responsible for spurring the growth of toxins within this mold.
Simply put, sometimes plants in certain crops will fall victim to this mold, and often times they won’t. Also, not all Aspergillus flavus molds produce the toxin that is potentially deadly to humans. So even when mold is found on crop plants, it is still not clear if it contains the deadly toxin. This toxin is known as aflatoxin.
Mold containing aflatoxin has been found on different crops, such as nuts, rice and corn. This mold clearly poses a significant danger to consumers, as agricultural inspectors and farmers may not notice the presence of the mold on agricultural products. If aflatoxin-containing mold is ingested by a human then serious health complications will result. The damaging physiological effects that aflatoxin causes include, stunted growth and delayed development in children, liver cancer, and sometimes the toxin leads to death. Researchers are pleased to discover that an insect can cause A. flavus mold to produce aflatoxin, as aflatoxin poisoning can be prevented by monitoring the the presence of crop pests.
Not only is aflatoxin sometimes fatal in humans, but farm animals can also die as a result of ingesting the toxin. In fact, farm animals that consume aflatoxin-contaminated plants often die because of it. This causes major economic losses within the agricultural industry. Aflatoxin induced deaths among farm animals costs $270 million in agricultural losses per year.
Experiments with fruit flies demonstrated that aflatoxin can swifty kill the insects. The mold likely produces the toxin as a defense against insect feeding, which is why insects prompt the mold to produce aflatoxin. The toxin is likely produced in response to the presence of a wide range of insects that feed on the crops that grow the A. flavus mold.
Do you think that there could be some insects that survive after feeding on mold containing aflatoxin?