There has been an increasing incidence rate of rice false smut in global rice cultivation areas. However, there is a dearth of studies on the environmental concentrations and hazards of ustiloxin A (UA), which is the major mycotoxin produced by a pathogenic fungus of the rice false smut. Here, the concentrations of UA in the surface waters of two paddy fields located in Enshi city, Hubei province, China, were measured, and its toxicity in T. Thermophila was evaluated. This is the first study to detect UA in the surface waters of the two paddy fields, and the measured mean concentrations were 2.82 and 0.26 μg/L, respectively. Exposure to 2.19, 19.01 or 187.13 μg/L UA for 5 days significantly reduced the theoretical population and cell size of T. thermophila. Furthermore, treatment with 187.13 μg/L UA changed the percentages of T. thermophila cells in different cell-cycle stages, and with an increased malformation rate compared with the control, suggesting the disruption of the cell cycle. The expressions of 30 genes involved in the enriched proteasome pathway, 7 cyclin genes (cyc9, cyc10, cyc16, cyc22, cyc23, cyc26, cyc33) and 2 histone genes (mlh1 and hho1) were significantly down-regulated, which might be the modes of action responsible for the disruption of cell cycling due to UA exposure. For the first time, it was founded that ustiloxin A (UA) was detected in surface waters of paddy fields, and exposure to UA in T. Thermophila caused toxicity by disrupting cell cycle.

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Environmental Pollution
Department of Biology

Cheng, S. (Shiyang), Liu, H. (Hao), Sun, Q. (Qian), Kong, R. (Ren), Letcher, R.J, & Liu, C. (Chunsheng). (2019). Occurrence of the fungus mycotoxin, ustiloxin A, in surface waters of paddy fields in Enshi, Hubei, China, and toxicity in Tetrahymena thermophila. Environmental Pollution, 251, 901–909. doi:10.1016/j.envpol.2019.05.032