Detoxifying DON in corn

Canadian Farm NewsUncategorized

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) researchers have made a discovery that can help corn producers manage grain contaminated with vomitoxin (DON).

Dr. Ting Zhou and a team of scientists helped find a new species of the bacteria Devosia mutans from an Ontario alfalfa field. Within the bacteria are two enzymes that make DON non-toxic.

This discovery could be a game-changer, he said.

“With the bacteria and the enzymes, this opens a big door for several industries to use them in pre- and post-harvest applications,” he told

From a pre-harvest perspective, the bacteria can be used as a soil amendment.

“Because the bacteria can detoxify the pathogen, it could reduce the severity of the fungus and perhaps make the plants more resistant to the disease,” he said. “And because the bacteria occurs naturally in the soil, it should be able to survive in the soil. (It) could even be used as a seed treatment before planting.”

After producers have harvested their crops, they could use the enzymes to treat contaminated grain.

Reducing the volume of DON in grain is beneficial for many industries, Zhou said.

“If you think about it, this discovery can help a lot of people within the production chain,” he said. “A farmer could buy a product to mix into the grain to reduce the DON ratings. Then that farmer can sell the grain for feed, and whoever buys it can be confident they’re feeding their livestock safe grain.”

The next step in the process is to collaborate with industry on commercialization, Zhou said.