The complexity of prediction
The true nature of climate change is full of unknowns. However, even if we had a clear idea about what lies ahead, predicting changes in mycotoxin occurrence would be far from straightforward. This is because the interactions between pathogens, host plants and weather are complex.
A variety of mycotoxin-producing fungi infect different plants. Among these fungal species, a little-known competitive interaction takes place. Today, researchers around the world are working hard to understand this interaction. Their ambition is to establish models for predicting changes in mycotoxin occurrence due to a warmer temperature, shorter crop cultivation period, earlier flowering and a rising level of atmospheric CO2, for example. Such models could play a key role in preparing feed solutions that protect animal health and performance.
Data gathered over the past decade gives an indication of potential trends in mycotoxin occurrence within Europe (figure 1). In wheat crops, data from 2013 to 2021 shows a trend towards increasing fumonisin levels in Southern, Northern and Central Europe. A similar trend has been identified for aflatoxins in Central and Northern Europe. On the other hand, aflatoxin prevalence in Southern Europe has declined during this timeframe.