Newly published findings from a team of French researchers raise the possibility of a health risk from mycotoxins in mussels and other shellfish when certain strains of Penicillium fungi are present in waters where they are harvested.
The study, led by Professor Yves Francois Pouchus at the University of Nantes, set out to assess the toxigenic risk associated with Penicillium strains isolated from bivalve molluscs and the surrounding environment. They found that extracts from fungi derived from shellfish were more cytotoxic than those from the environmental isolates.
Growing ten of the shellfish isolates on a culture medium containing an extract of mussel flesh showed that extracts from some of the strains were more cytotoxic than when they were cultured on a yeast extract-based medium. This and other findings suggest that production of cytotoxic compounds could be enhanced when the fungi grow within mussels and other bivalves. The mycotoxin patulin was also detected in extracts from some strains of Penicillium antarcticum.
The authors of the study suggest that patulin may be one of the compounds responsible for the increased cytotoxicity and that monitoring of edible shellfish for mycotoxins should be considered. The findings are published in the journal Letters in Applied Microbiology and an abstract can be found here.