Sarah Hargrove
February 10, 1997

Isolation of Zearalenone in Warren Wilson College Zea Mays

Abstract.  Zearalenone is a non-steroidal mycotoxin roduced by certain strains of Fusarium spp of fungi. It has the ability to interact directly with estrogen protein receptor molecules. When ZEN is present in feed, it can cause adverse estrogen related reactions in feed animals. Swine are most highly affected by this mycotoxin, which can interfere with embryonic development and conception. Eleven month old corn (Zea mays) samples were taken from the top, middle, and bottom of the WWC granary storage area. Freshly combined corn was also collected. Five replicates of each were collected. Zearalenone was extracted from the corn with CHCl3 and run through a silica gel column using solvents of increasing polarity. The acetone/benzene fraction was collected and further purified using hexane and CH3CN. The solution was then analyzed using short and long wave UV light. After AlCl3 treatment, I concluded that ZEN in these samples did not exceed detection limit of ~10 ppb.  However, the bottom and middle samples showed much fluorescence at other Rfs. Because this is a similar extraction method for aflatoxins, samples were run against an aflatoxin standard. There were aflatoxins present in the bottom samples. Further identification of spots on the TLC plate is needed.