Aspergillus flavus diversity on crops and in the environment can be exploited to reduce aflatoxin exposure and improve health

Hillary L. Mehl, Ramon Jaime, Kenneth A. Callicott, Claudia Probst, Nicholas P. Garber, Alejandro Ortega-Beltran, Lisa C. Grubisha, Peter J. Cotty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

49 Scopus citations

Abstract

Humans and animals are exposed to aflatoxins, toxic carcinogenic fungal metabolites, through consumption of contaminated food and feed. Aspergillus flavus, the primary causal agent of crop aflatoxin contamination, is composed of phenotypically and genotypically diverse vegetative compatibility groups (VCGs). Molecular data suggest that VCGs largely behave as clones with certain VCGs exhibiting niche preference. VCGs vary in aflatoxin-producing ability, ranging from highly aflatoxigenic to atoxigenic. The prevalence of individual VCGs is dictated by competition during growth and reproduction under variable biotic and abiotic conditions. Agronomic practices influence structures and average aflatoxin-producing potentials of A. flavus populations and, as a result, incidences and severities of crop contamination. Application of atoxigenic strains has successfully reduced crop aflatoxin contamination across large areas in the United States. This strategy uses components of the endemic diversity to alter structures of A. flavus populations and improve safety of food, feed, and the overall environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-17
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Volume1273
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2012

Keywords

  • Aflatoxin
  • Aspergillus flavus
  • Biocontrol
  • Competitive exclusion
  • Food safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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