Analysis of fungal spore Mycotoxin and the relationship between spore surface area and Mycotoxin content utilizing a protein translation inhibition assay
Due to mounting evidence suggesting that biological contamination in the built environment may cause a myriad of adverse health effects, research aimed at understanding the potential exposure to fungal organisms and their metabolites is of utmost importance. To this end we utilized a protein translation inhibition assay to determine the relative amounts of mycotoxin present in various fungal spore preparations. Basing our results on the transformation of firefly luciferase in a rabbit reticulocyte system our initial data showed that spores from different fungal genera contained varying amounts of mycotoxins. However, by calculating the surface area of the spores and then normalizing the assay by keeping surface areas equivalent we determined that there is a direct relationship between spore size and mycotoxin content. This is an important finding because simply knowing the numbers of spores is clearly not sufficient; one needs to know the specific species present to formulate an effective risk assessment and remediation regimen. This work illuminates the potential inhalation exposure to trichothecene mycotoxins that are suspended in the air of the indoor environment. Currently many methods of fungal analysis in the indoor environment are simply based on spore counts. Our analysis clearly demonstrates that it is equally important to know the species of organisms present to accurately determine potential exposure to mycotoxins, thereby enabling effective risk management decisions to be made.