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Chun-Chun Hsu

Fungi, Molds, and Crops: Reducing Food Waste with Clay

Chun-Chun Hsu, a Texas A&M University doctoral student in the department of Soil and Crop Sciences, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (COALS), traveled to Atlanta, Georgia to present her data at the 53rd Annual Meeting of the Clay Minerals Society from June 5-8, 2016. At the conference, she gave both an oral and poster presentation describing her research on food contamination and how that is affected by certain molds. Molds, called myotoxins, produce fungi on crops such as corn and tree nuts, and can lead to health risks for both humans and animals that consume these crops. “The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations estimates that 25% of the world’s food crops are affected by myotoxins thus resulting in one billion tons of foodstuffs loss each year” Chun Chun conveyed. Her research will assist in confirming the efficacy of certain clay materials to decontaminate food affected by myotoxins, decreasing food waste.

Attending conferences offers valuable benefits to students. Chun-Chun wrote that she “attended seven different sessions and (her presentations) received feedback from national and international scholars. Additionally, the poster session was a great networking opportunity where researchers exchanged academic experiences and discussed new research directions. The banquet and awards session provided many students like me an opportunity to communicate with other students and scholars.” Chun Chun is mentored by Dr. Youjun Deng, Associate Professor of Soil Clay Mineralogy in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, COALS.

Dr. Deng stated that “Accumulation of mycotoxins in agricultural commodities, human foods and animal feeds can cause severe health problems such as liver cancer, growth retardation, childhood stunting, immunosuppression, neural tube defects, endocrine disruption, and mutagenicity. Unfortunately, highly selective, broadly available, environmentally friendly, safe, and economical binders for most of the mycotoxins have not been discovered. Chun-Chun’s study on how mycotoxins interact with clays will lay the foundation for us to develop strategies of selecting and modifying clays as an efficient and practical detoxification method for some of the mycotoxins.”

Click here to view Chun-Chun's abstract.

Chun-Chun Hsu