Significance of aflatoxin exposure to northern bobwhite from native and supplemental feeds



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Texas Tech University


Mycotoxins are toxic metabolites produced by various genera of fungi, such as Aspergillus, Fusarium, and Penicillium. Aflatoxins, produced primarily by A. flavus and A. parasiticus, are the most commonly occurring and widely known mycotoxins. Aflatoxins are carcinogenic, hepatotoxic, teratogenic, and immunosuppressive. Aflatoxins can affect a wide variety of animals, including fish, rodents, waterfowl, poultry, swine, and cattle. The significance of the problem for wildlife, however, is largely unknown.

Data concerning impacts of aflatoxin on wildlife in the field are limited. Fifty-one percent of com used for feeding deer in North and South Carolina contained AF with concentrations as high as 750 ppb (Fischer et al. 1995). Couvillion et al. (1991) investigated the mycotoxin production dynamics of waste com. Corn left in the field after harvest was found to contain 5 to 5,000 ppb AF. Comparison of these levels to those used in laboratory experiments suggests many possible detrimental impacts on wildlife. Large waterfowl die-offs occurred in two separate areas of Texas in the 1977-1978 wintering season; approximately 500 geese and 7,000 ducks succumbed to aflatoxicosis (Robinson et al. 1982).