Occurrence and Physiology of Zearalenone as a New Plant Hormone

Jolanta Biesaga-Koscielniak and Maria Filek

Abstract Zearalenone* is a non-steroidal mycotoxin with oestrogenic properties, which is produced mainly by fungi belonging to Fusarium (*6-(10-hydroxy-6-oxo-trans-1-undecenyl)-b-resorcylic acid lactone). The toxin-producing ability of Fusaria is greatly influenced by environmental factors. Therefore, it was expected that the different weather conditions occurring during the vegetation period would be associated with differences in the preharvest occurrence of Fusarium toxins. Sustainable food systems research and practice concentrate on the study of the level of these mycotoxins in soils and crops. However, some experiments show that zearalenone can also act as a hormonal substance and have a favourable effect on the development of plants and animals. This chapter gives an overview of the possible effect of low concentrations of zearalenone on some physiological processes in crops. It has been shown that exogenous application of zearalenone and its derivatives can stimulate generative development in winter plants, which suggest its participation in the mechanism of flowering. Moreover, treatment with zearalenone had an effect on calli proliferation and cell differentiation. The effect of zearalenone was similar to the activity of auxins in in vitro cultures, which may confirm the hormonal properties of zearalenone in plants. Watering and soaking wheat and soybean grains with zearalenone solution resulted in higher yields of these plants. These observations, compared with the possibility of weather-related changes in the exogenous content of zearalenone in soils, can be useful in determining the optimal zearalenone dose that would show the favourable effect of this substance in plant development.

J. Biesaga-Koscielniak (*) and M. Filek

Polish Academy of Sciences, The Franciszek Gorski Institute of Plant Physiology, Niezapominajek 21, 30-239, Krakow, Poland e-mail: [email protected]

M. Filek

Institute of Biology, Pedagogical University, Podbrzezie 3,

3, 31-054, Krakow, Poland and

Polish Academy of Sciences,

The Franciszek Gorski Institute of Plant Physiology, Niezapominajek 21, 30-239, Krakow, Poland

E. Lichtfouse (ed.), Sociology, Organic Farming, Climate Change and Soil Science, 419

Sustainable Agriculture Reviews 3, DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-3333-8_15, © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Keywords Plant development • Plant hormones • Zearalenone

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