Selko and Westerdijk Institute uncover new insights into inhibiting mold in feed

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Dr_Microbe
© GettyImages/Dr_Microbe
Selko, the feed additives brand of Nutreco, reports research findings confirming the antifungal mode of action in a synergistic blend used for grain and animal feed preservation.

It claims independent studies conducted at the Netherlands-based Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute proves the effectiveness of its Fylax Forte HC with ActiProp technology.

Researchers used Aspergillus chevalieri as a model to evaluate how the synergy between organic acids (Fylax with Actiprop) affected the mold’s fungal survival structures, including the ability of mold spores (conidia) to germinate and grow.

Scientists at the institute isolated Aspergillus chevalieri from molded feed samples originating from various continents and countries. 

Collaborating with Selko researchers, they then evaluated how the antifungal blend affected germinating conidia, germ tubes, and hyphae. Light microscopy was used to count the resulting colonies, and fungal colony growth from isolated conidia was assessed using the oCelloscope, a high-throughput live-cell imaging system for detailed monitoring of biological growth.

Understanding Aspergillus chevalieri

Aspergillus chevalieri is a common mold found in stored grains and feeds. It is xerophilic, meaning it thrives in environments with exceptionally low moisture and water activity. This characteristic allows it to develop even under high-standard storage conditions.

“To address this, we designed our model as a challenge model to ensure the results would also apply to conditions with higher humidity levels. By selecting these more challenging conditions, we aimed to demonstrate the effectiveness of ActiProp. The approach proved to be quite successful,” Pedro Caramona, category lead for feed safety and quality at Selko, told us.

Key findings 

Results showed that the survival and development of Aspergillus chevalieri conidia were significantly reduced in the presence of Fylax with ActiProp compared to a control group, while the antifungal blend also significantly inhibited hyphal growth, he reported. 

Electron microscopy of untreated and treated conidia revealed the active ingredient’s ability to affect cell membrane integrity, disrupting mitochondria, inhibiting spore germination, growth, and preventing spores from germinating.

"Partnering with Westerdijk allowed us to reflect on the basic principles of our fundamental questions and leverage their researchers' knowledge and proven biomechanistic models for our experimental design. This approach proved to be extremely effective in yielding more precise insights.

"By deepening our understanding of the characterization and presence of specific mold species found in animal feed, and collaborating with companies in different regions, we can further ensure that our model is relevant for its intended purpose and the industry in which we operate," said Caramona.

Economic viability 

Regarding the economic viability and application of antifungal agents in the animal feed industry, the researcher commented:

"Animal feed is the largest financial input in livestock production, so protecting this nutritional investment is crucial. Our findings show a significant advance in mold control, demonstrating that ActiProp technology is more effective at lower inclusion rates compared to propionic acid or buffered propionic acid alone.

"We are pleased to contribute to the field of feed safety and to have our findings published in the latest edition of the International Journal of Food Microbiology, in collaboration with the Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute. We knew that the Fylax Forte-HC liquid product is effective. Understanding the synergy of ActiProp technology and its ability to inhibit mold development allows us to provide more precise and tailored advice to customers, ensuring the highest possible return on investment."

Future focus 

The company is also focusing on the biosynthesis and mechanisms of mycotoxigenic molds.

“We are using cross-functional modelling and AI to determine how we can be more predictive in our mitigating strategies towards mold development and mycotoxin risk management,” added Caramona.

These strategies are increasingly important as the microbial populations in various regions and conditions can vary greatly. 

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