Tenuazonic acid

tenuazonic acid mycotoxin

Tenuazonic acid is a potent mycotoxin produced predominantly by moulds belonging to the Alternaria but also to Phoma genus. The genus Alternaria includes some of the commonest fungi, which occur ubiquitously in temperate and tropical climates. They occur in soil, household dust, in decaying organic vegetable matter, in both cultivated and non-cultivated plants and have been isolated from pulpy and citrus fruits, vegetables, cereals, oilseeds, edible nuts, beans, flowers, tobacco, grass, silage, hay and weeds.


Tenuazonic acid is produced in culture by numerous strains of A. alternata, also may be produced by several other Alternaria species, including A. capsici-annui, A. citri, A. japonica, A. kikuchiana, A. longipes, A. porri, A. radicina, A. tenuissima and A. tomato.

The major mycotoxin producer is considerd to be Alternaria alternata which produces a range of potent mycotoxins such as alternariol, alternariol monomethyl ether, tenuazonic acid,  altenuene and altertoxins. A. alternata causes pathogenic or indefinite opportunistic disease in many crops. Alternaria fungi cause spoilage to most agricultural commodities in the field and in storage but because of a high water requirement for its growth, the most susceptible commodities are fruit and vegetables.

Tenuazonic acid or is a colorless oil, soluble in chloroform and methanol, it inhibits the protein synthesis. It appears to be the inhibition of protein synthesis by suppression of the release of newly formed proteins from the ribosomes into the supernatant fluid. It exhibits antitumor, antiviral and antibacterial activity. It is soluble in methanol and chloroform. Tenuazonic acid is usually stored as its copper salt.

Tenuazonic acid is commonly found as a natural contaminant in food. Test animal exposed to the effects of tenuazonic acid developed precancerous lesions, hemorrahaging, gizzard lesions. Tenuazonic acid is also toxic to a wide range of plants, fungi, bacteria and viruses and was reported as a phytotoxin?.

Tenuazonic acid contamination has been linked to esophageal cancer in human populations at risk of high exposure and it has been associated with the human hematological disorder known as Onyalay.