Cytochrome P450-mediated mycotoxin metabolism by plant-feeding insects

May R. Berenbaum, Daniel S. Bush, Ling Hsiu Liao

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites produced primarily by filamentous fungi that when consumed cause pathological responses in animal hosts or consumers. Defined functionally rather than structurally, mycotoxins derive from numerous primary metabolic pathways. Through opportunistic or mutualistic associations, insect herbivores inflict damage that can predispose plants to infection by mycotoxin-producing phytopathogens, resulting in economically significant contamination. The few cytochrome P450 subfamilies implicated in mycotoxin detoxification by insects, including CYP6 and CYP9, are also known to detoxify phytochemicals. Some insect P450s bioactivate, rather than detoxify, mycotoxins, suggestive of an ‘escalation’ in arms-race interactions between these herbivores and fungi. Characterizing insect P450s that detoxify mycotoxins can be useful for developing biological remediation technologies and for ensuring the safety of insects reared for human or livestock consumption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-91
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Insect Science
StatePublished - Feb 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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