Background: Honeysuckle, as one of the most important traditional Chinese medicines
(TCMs), has attracted more and more attention due to the increasing number of people using it as selfmedication
or alternative therapy. In order to determine whether honeysuckle is a special matrix that may
be less susceptible to be infected by toxigenic molds and consequently to less mycotoxins contamination
due to its biological and pharmacological effects such as antibacterial, antiviral and antioxidant activities, a
total of 60 dried samples randomly collected from main producing areas were analyzed.
Methods: Conventional mycological investigations and molecular studies were performed for isolation
and identification of the fungi, while the produced mycotoxins were determined by ultra-highperformance
liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (UHPLC-MS/MS). After validation by
determining linearity, recovery, sensitivity and precision, the analytical method has been successfully
applied in real samples.
Results: Alternaria, Aspergillus, Chaetomium, Penicillium, Phoma, Mucor, Arthrinium and
Trichoderma were recovered, whereas occurrence of aflatoxin B1 (AFB1), aflatoxin G1 (AFG1),
deoxynivalenol (DON), 3-acetyldeoxynivalenol (3-ADON), zearalanone (ZAN) and zearalenone (ZEA)
was positively identified in 14 samples with the concentration levels up to 1.2, 9.6, 10.7, 34.9, 5.6 and
27.4 µg kg-1, respectively.
Conclusion: To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report for the assessment of toxigenic fungal
and mycotoxins contamination in honeysuckle. A total of 30 strains were isolated and identified, while
mycotoxins were positively detected in honeysuckle by the established sensitive and reliable UHPLCMS/
MS method, indicating the potential health risks to consumers.