Among plant fungal diseases, those affecting cereals represent a huge problem in terms of food security and safety. Cereals, such as maize and wheat, are very often targets of mycotoxigenic fungi. The limited availability of chemical plant protection products and physical methods to control mycotoxigenic fungi and to reduce food and feed mycotoxin contamination fosters alternative approaches, such as the use of beneficial fungi as an active ingredient of biological control products. Competitive interactions, including both exploitation and interference competition, between pathogenic and beneficial fungi, are generally recognized as mechanisms to control plant pathogens populations and to manage plant diseases. In the present review, two examples concerning the use of competitive beneficial filamentous fungi for the management of cereal diseases are discussed. The authors retrace the history of the well-established use of non-aflatoxigenic isolates of Aspergillus flavus to prevent aflatoxin contamination in maize and give an overview of the potential use of competitive beneficial filamentous fungi to manage Fusarium Head Blight on wheat and mitigate fusaria toxin contamination. Although important steps have been made towards the development of microorganisms as active ingredients of plant protection products, a reasoned revision of the registration rules is needed to significantly reduce the chemical based plant protection products in agriculture.
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