Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Monday, April 13, 2015

New sensor system sniffs out mycotoxins in wheat

23 March 2015. The EU funded MYCOHUNT project developed a system that can sniff out mycotoxins in wheat almost immediately. It is expected to be on the market within two years.

Automatic sampling
In an attempt to speed up the detection process, theMYCOHUNT project developed an innovative rapid biosensor for deoxynivalenol (DON) in wheat. DON is a mycotoxin most commonly formed in wheat, barley, oats, rye, and maize. Traditional detection methods – usually performed off-site – rely on the sampling of the wheat grain and require human intervention, which leaves greater room for error. The MYCOHUNT system automatically samples the dust of the wheat grain on-site during harvesting or transfer.

Results within 30 minutes
Connected to the transportation pipes or purifying units of the wheat processing facility, the device collects dust samples from each lot and forwards them to the measuring unit. This unit contains a highly sensitive biosensor with specially developed DON-detecting antibodies. Calculated on the basis of this correlation, the computer-based control and monitoring unit shows the results within 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the amount of wheat. Traditional methods can take days. This enables traders, millers or growers to monitor crop quality more quickly and efficiently.

Route to market
Testing of the prototype under laboratory conditions and in the field, as well as the training provided to the participating SMEs, went well. Additional tests are now necessary before the finishing touches can be introduced to the system to make it market-ready. They are hoping to introduce the working industrial unit to the market within two years of project completion.
Background:
The MYCOHUNT project aims at increasing the competitiveness of a large group of SMEs by developing a cost-effective method to detect infection of DON in wheat grains, a major threat to the food and feed sector of the European industry. A group of SME Associations, covering the two sectors and representing vast number of SMEs, have put together this project in order to gain knowledge and resources to further exploit the results of the novel technology proposed by providing a thorough sampling and measurement method of grain.

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