A multi-year survey of mycotoxins and ergosterol in Canadian oats

  • Sheryl A. TittlemierEmail author
  • Richard Blagden
  • Jason Chan
  • Mike Roscoe
  • Kerri Pleskach
Original Article


Canadian oat harvest samples, deliveries to processors, and train shipments from primary elevators were collected from mid-2014 through mid-2017 and analyzed for 26 mycotoxins and the fungal biomarker ergosterol. Of the 26 mycotoxins, 7 were not detected in any sample. The most frequently measured mycotoxins were beauvericin (in over 95% of samples analyzed), followed by tentoxin, culmorin, alternariol, alternariol methyl ether, and deoxynivalenol. Median concentrations of the Fusarium-produced mycotoxins ranged from 68 to 1142 μg/kg for deoxynivalenol, 39 to 188 μg/kg for HT-2 and T-2 toxins, 66 to 232 μg/kg for nivalenol, and less than 35 μg/kg for beauvericin. Median concentrations of the sum of Alternaria-produced mycotoxins were all less than 250 μg/kg. Concentrations of analytes varied among years, as well as among growing areas, for the harvest samples. Ergosterol, Fusarium, and Alternaria mycotoxin concentrations appeared to increase from the west toward the eastern Prairies and the province of Quebec; the differences were not statistically significant though. Ochratoxin A in deliveries and train shipments showed annual cyclic increases in the late summer. The results of the survey demonstrate the general compliance of Canadian oats with existing maximum levels for mycotoxins and indicate that in late summer and in years with increased Fusarium infection, there can be a need for monitoring of ochratoxin A and deoxynivalenol, respectively, to mitigate risks of noncompliant grain.


Avena sativa Prairies DON Alternaria Fusarium Geographical trend Temporal trend 



Cargill, Emerson Milling Inc., Grain Millers, Paterson Grain, and Viterra provided oat samples for the study. Barbara Blackwell (Ottawa Research and Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada) provided the culmorin analytical standard.

Funding information

This project was a collaborative venture with funding contributed by the Canadian Grain Commission, the Prairie Oat Growers Association, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture, and the Canada-Saskatchewan Growing Forward 2 bi-lateral agreement.


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Copyright information

© Crown 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Grain Research LaboratoryCanadian Grain CommissionWinnipegCanada

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