Representative mycotoxin detection in cereals based on grain abrasions


T. M. A. Gronewold, M. Reichel, S. Biselli
Eurofins WEJ Contaminants, Neuländer Kamp 1, 21079 Hamburg, Germany
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It cannot be avoided that molds grow at least to some degree on crops on the field and at storage. They produce a variety of mycotoxins resultant of environmental conditions. Some mycotoxins are especially regulated by reason of their ubiquitous distribution and their impact on human health. The detection of such mycotoxins in grain usually requires laborious grinding steps. Particularly at uneven distribution within a lot, certain mycotoxin detection would require finely granulated grinding of a representative 5 – 10 kg sample which is composed of a very high number (100 x 100 g) of sub-samples probed all-over from a large lot. Especially these initial sampling and preparation steps are time-consuming and difficult to accurately be performed.

To overcome this, about a decade ago, the innovative rapidust® procedure has been envisioned to improve the detection of mycotoxin. It is simplifying and speeding up the detection process: Already at harvest and whenever kernels are moved, fine grain dust and abrasions, the so-called dust, are formed. In this dust, the mycotoxin content is enriched and high correlated to the kernels. In principle, a certain grain dust fraction is produced by suction or sieving. Mostly, a rapidly prepared aqueous grain dust extract mixed with a running buffer makes a sufficient sample for reliable testing of the mycotoxin content – without any matrix effect and using standard detection methods like lateral-flow devices. Due to the high correlation, the mycotoxin content of the total lot is re-calculated in an App, whereby even a small portion of the grain dust represents many kernels.

Such representative tests on cereals like corn and wheat have been performed on-site under real conditions for several mycotoxins as are Deoxynivalenol (DON), Aflatoxins (AFLA), Zearalenone (ZEA = ZON) and Ochratoxin (OTA). The contamination of kernel samples was referenced by HPLC-MS/MS.

Thomas M. A. Gronewold

Dr. rer. nat. Thomas M. A. Gronewold studied Biology at the Technical University Braunschweig, Germany. For both his Diploma and for his Doctorate, he worked at the GBF also in Braunschweig in the departments of Enzymology and Natural Compounds, respectively. For a Post-Doctorate, he worked at Stanford University, USA, in both departments of Developmental Biology and of Biochemistry. After four years, he moved to Bonn, Germany, to develop biosensors at the caesar institute. As a spin-off, he founded with four colleagues the Biosensor company. Therein, he developed a drug and explosives sensor with a Swedish-based company as strategic investor. In this joint venture he worked predominantly in Stockholm. Afterwards, the focus of development was shifted towards a biosensor for label-free, real time interaction studies. Therefore, SAW instruments was founded together with five colleagues in Bonn, Germany. In 2015, Dr. Gronewold started working at Eurofins, first at Eurofins Rapidust Analysis GmbH as a product manager. Lately he changed to Eurofins WEJ Contaminants GmbH to work as a sales manager.