prof. Marthe De Boevre (PhD)

CRIG group leader
Marthe De Boevre

Principal Investigator  - Laboratory of Food Analysis, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences (UGent)

Research focus

Foods may be contaminated by microorganisms during cultivation, harvest, storage, processing or distribution. Under certain conditions, some fungi that contaminate crops may produce toxic components, such as mycotoxins. Many different classes of mycotoxins (aflatoxins, trichothecenes, fumonisins, etc.) may be produced by a range of fungi. Contaminated crops are consumed directly, or indirectly, through animal products (meat, milk, etc.) raised on contaminated feed. Mycotoxins can cause a wide range of toxic effects in humans, from reportedly inducing carcinogenesis or DNA damage, to targeting specific organs, like the kidney, liver, or intestines. Although the health effects of some specific mycotoxins are already investigated, the effect of chronically consuming multiple mycotoxins has not been researched so far. Therefore, the ERC-funded HUMYCO project aims to investigate the risk for hepatocellular, colorectal and renal cancer among others due to chronic low-contamination of multiple mycotoxins. The study will use large cohorts in Europe and Africa, including half a million subjects from ten European countries, namely The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study cohort. Participants’ mycotoxin exposure will be investigated via dietary questionnaires and blood, urine and feces samples, collected at baseline of the EPIC study, which started in 1992, and using multi-mycotoxin levels in foods obtained via EFSA and its member states. Dietary intakes among cancer cases, as well as biomarker levels in the collected biological samples, will be compared against non-cancer cases, to identify mycotoxins associated with cancer risk. Finally, mycotoxin-induced genome mutations will be identified in mice and human cells.


  • Master in Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2009, Ghent University
  • Doctor in Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2013, Ghent University (Chemical risks related to food and feed containing masked Fusarium mycotoxins)
  • Postdoctoral assistant (2013-to date): coordinator of research line 'mycotoxins and public health' within the Laboratory of Food Analysis

Research team

Key publications

  • Dietary mycotoxins, co-exposure, and carcinogenesis in humans: Short review. Mutation Research/Reviews in Mutation Research, 2015. (PMID: 26596546)
  • Mycotoxin exposure and human cancer risk: A systematic review of epidemiological studies. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, 2020. (PMID: 33337079)
  • Burden of disease associated with dietary exposure to carcinogenic aflatoxins in Portugal using human biomonitoring approach. Food Research International, 2020. (PMID: 32517894)
  • LC-MS/MS methodology for simultaneous determination of patulin and citrinin in urine and plasma applied to a pilot study in colorectal cancer patients. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 2020. (PMID: 31783110)
  • Mycotoxin exposure assessments in a multi-center European validation study by 24-hour dietary recall and biological fluid sampling. Environment International, 2020. (PMID: 32035364)
  • A concise review towards defining the exposome of oesophageal cancer in sub-Saharan Africa. Environment International, 2021. (PMID: 34543937)

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