Mycotoxins are produced by fungi, which may infect growing crops and stored grain. Ergot (Clavi-ceps purpurea) infects rye and other temperate cereals and produces alkaloid toxins. If ingested in sufficient amounts, these alkaloids induce mental derangement, gangrene, and other symptoms. Afla-toxin, a toxin and potent carcinogen, is produced by the fungus Aspergillus flavus, which may occur in maize crops and stored grain. Other fungal toxins include ochratoxin, produced by Penicillium species, and trichothecenes, produced by Fusarium species. Mycotoxins are less of a problem in cereals than in seed legumes and nuts. Mycotoxin levels can be controlled by correct agronomy and storage, and crops are monitored to ensure that safe levels are not exceeded.
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