Naturally Derived Inhibitors of Fungal Toxin Production






Nothing ruins a crop of corn quite like the aflatoxin produced by fungi, such as Aspergillus parasiticus. This toxin degrades the food and makes consumption dangerous, especially in children and pets. If crops are found to be contaminated with an aflatoxin producing mold a recall may be required. A 2020 recall of dog food after the death of at least 28 dogs demonstrates that this is an ongoing problem.  DON contamination is an ongoing problem in animal feed and for the brewing and baking industries.  Means to prevent these toxins from contaminating food and feed is needed.


Description of Technology

MSU researchers have identified several natural products from lichens and black pepper that greatly reduce toxin production by Aspergillus (aflatoxin) and/or Fusarium (DON, deoxynivalenol). The natural products have been structurally identified, chemical synthesis has verified the activity, and additional structural variants of the pepper compounds have been synthesized and shown to block toxin production. 



  • Large market: This can be used to protect a variety of crops from spoiling due to aflatoxin and or DON contamination. The whole agriculture industry would be interested in such a product.
  • Platform technology: After isolating the responsible compounds, multiple technologies can be produced for application, dependent on the needs of the consumer.
  • Simple chemical structures:  chemical synthesis is simple and easily scalable



  • Crop protection, especially in combination with current fungicides active against Aspergillus and/or Fusarium
  • Extend crop storage longevity
  • Easier deregulatory pathway:  the compounds block toxin production but are not fungicides


Patent Status

US 16/521,326, pending

US 9,988,352

US 10,450,271



Structure and Chemical Analysis of Major Specialized Metabolites Produced by the Lichen Evernia prunastri.  Chemistry and Biodiversity. 2019.

Novel Procedure for Identification of Compounds Inhibitory to Transcription of Genes Involved in Mycotoxin Biosynthesis.  J. Agric. Food Chem. 2000,

Patent Information:

For Information, Contact:

Thomas Herlache
Assistant Director
Michigan State University