Aquaculture has been a growing sector of food production worldwide in the last decades, and now starts to include new, unconventional species from the Phylum Echinodermata, such as sea urchin (Paracentrotus lividus) and sea cucumber (Holothuria tubulosa). However, little is known in this context with regard to food safety aspects arising from toxigenic fungi. In this study, samples of feed (n = 7) and water (n = 8) or water filters (n = 4) from experimental aquaculture systems, producing sea urchin and sea cucumber, were analyzed by culture-based microbiological methods to assess fungal associations. Additionally, a search using molecular techniques for toxigenic sections within the genus Aspergillus in these materials was done. Finally, samples were analyzed for 37 mycotoxins by LC-MS/MS. In feed samples, Fusarium verticillioides and F. culmorum were detected. In water and water filter samples, Aureobasidium spp., Penicillium spp., and Cladosporium spp. were found. No genes of species from toxigenic Aspergillus sections were detected. Some feed samples were contaminated by multiple mycotoxins, namely deoxynivalenol (DON), zearalenone (ZEN), fumonisins (FBs), T-2 toxin, ochratoxin A (OTA), and mycophenolic acid (MPA). This is the first one study dealing with toxigenic fungi and mycotoxins in echinoderm-producting aquaculture. Although no clear evidence for adverse effects on the production systems could be found, the confirmed environmental association of mycotoxins and echinoderms requires further consideration. Studies on the consequences of introducing cereal-based fungi and their mycotoxins via feeds into aquaculture systems for echinoderm production seem to be advisable, to assess possible adverse effects on production and to clarify the potential impact on public health.
- Sea cucumber, Holothuria tubulosa
- Sea urchin, Paracentrotus lividus