A model was set up to elucidate the uptake, translocation, and metabolic fate of zearalenone (ZEN) in durum wheat. After treatment with ZEN, roots and shoots were profiled with LC-HRMS. A comprehensive description of in planta ZEN biotransformation and a biotechnological evaluation of the model were obtained. Up to 200 ug ZEN were removed by each plantlet after 14 days. Most ZEN and its masked forms were retained in roots, while minimal amounts were detected in leaves. Sixty-two chromatographic peaks were obtained, resulting in 7 putative phase I and 18 putative phase II metabolites. ZEN16Glc and ZEN14Glc were most abundant in roots, sulfo-conjugates and zearalenol derivatives were unable to gain systemic distribution, while distinct isomers of malonyl conjugates were found in leaves and roots. This study underlines the potential ZEN occurrence in plants without an ongoing Fusarium infection. Micropropagation may represent a tool to investigate the interplay between mycotoxins and wheat.
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