Fungi grow in a wide range of habitats and are beneficial as decomposers of dead material throughout the world. Some fungi, however, are parasitic, causing infections in plants, animals and humans. Many produce toxic metabolites, mycotoxins, which are detrimental to the health of consumers of contaminated food. Documented risk analyses indicate that animals and humans are chronically exposed to mycotoxins. Yet, the full metabolic potential of fungi is largely un-explored, and we need a better understanding of the toxic effects of such compounds to ensure the health of humans and livestock, develop counter-acting strategies, and maintain productivity in a “one health” perspective.
FUNtox is a strategic institute scheme at the Norwegian Veterinary Institute established to provide a centre of excellence for research on fungi (FUN) and toxinology (tox). The group has a multidisciplinary profile encompassing expertise within mycology, chemistry, toxicology, pharmacology, pathology and immunology. With this constellation we aim to challenge scientific questions relating to plant, animal and human health in the context of mycoses and mycotoxicoses.
The FUNtox centre is based on four pillars;
- fungal genetics and epigenetics
- fungal metabolomics and proteomics
- toxicokinetics and biotransformation of mycotoxins
- mycotoxin toxicology and pathology.
The synergy between pillars will be an asset in addressing important scientific questions of both basic and applied character.
Technologies typically used include high-resolution mass spectrometry, NMR, Flow Cytometry, Confocal Microscopy, pathology, molecular biology, toxicokinetics, and a multitude of cellular assays and animal models. In this framework FUNtox is aiming to explore the full potential of fungi to produce bioactive compounds, and to study the fate and toxicity of these compounds after uptake in humans and animals.