Oats can become infected with Fusarium (fungi) species that can contaminate the grain with toxic mycotoxins, although there are no visible symptoms. Working closely with University College Dublin in a BBSRC / Science Foundation Ireland initiative, our Applied Mycology Group will help to develop novel and innovative strategies for control pre- and post-harvest.

Oats and oat-based product consumption in the UK and Ireland are increasing as they have beneficial health benefits. Oats can be infected during the critical ripening phase with a pathogen called Fusarium langsethiae, which produces no visible symptoms but contaminates the grain with type A trichothecenes.

Although there are European Union directives on maximum safety levels in oats for human consumption / feed, there is no information on how climate change could influence the infection of oats by this pathogen and impacts on mycotoxin contamination and thus oat quality.

In close collaboration with University College Dublin, Ireland, via a BBSRC / Science Foundation Ireland initiative, we will examine the potential for identifying cultivars in the UK and Ireland which have better resistance to the pathogen. Also, we will develop effective strategies for controlling contamination by better understanding the effect of present / future climate change scenarios on the pathogen and toxin contamination.