Black aspergilli species responsible for infecting corn identified

Sep 30, 2010

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists in Athens, Georgia, have reported for the first time that several species of Aspergillus niger, or black aspergilli, are capable of infecting corn and peanuts as endophytes. The researchers also showed that, under laboratory conditions, these species produced mycotoxins.

Using a molecular procedure they developed, USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) research leader Charles Bacon, microbiologist Dorothy Hinton, and Edwin Palencia, a graduate student in the Department of of the University of Georgia in Athens, identified more than 18 species of black aspergilli, several of which have the potential to produce mycotoxins.

ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency, and this research supports the USDA priority of ensuring food safety.

Bacon and his team at the ARS Richard B. Russell Research Center in Athens also found that several A.niger species that were thought to be incapable of producing mycotoxins can produce ochratoxins—carcinogenic mycotoxins that can affect humans, livestock, and poultry. These A. niger species were deemed as non-producers of mycotoxins based on in vitro culture media, but on corn they were indeed producers. The findings from that research were published in the journal Toxins.

A. niger, one of a group of black-spored fungi, is a common contaminant on corn, peanuts, several other important food and feed ingredients, and products made from them.

Bacon and his team's work suggest that species of A. niger are also contributors to the occurrence of fumonisins in corn, other cereals and food items. Fumonisins are a class of mycotoxins that are known to be carcinogenic and are primarily produced by the Fusarium species of fungi. Some of the black aspergilli identified in this study are also producers of this mycotoxin.

According to the research team, the A. niger complex of species acts within corn and peanuts as an endophyte, living within the tissues of the plant, but causing no harm to the plant itself. Three species of A. niger are identified in U.S. corn and peanuts as symptomless endophytes, which suggests the potential for concern as pathogens and as food safety hazards.

Black aspergilli, generally viewed as post-harvest pathogens, produce rots of grapes, and numerous other fruits and grain.

Explore further: Genetic study shows major impact of climate change on Antarctic fur seals

Provided by United States Department of Agriculture

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Afla-Guard also protects corn crops

Sep 03, 2010

Afla-Guard®, a biological control used to thwart the growth of fungi on peanuts, can be used on corn as well, according to a study by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists who helped develop it.

Corn lines resist fungal toxins

Sep 03, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Corn germplasm lines developed by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists are scoring high marks in field trials for resistance to aflatoxin produced by Aspergilllus flavus and A. ...

Hardy New Corn Lines Released

Oct 16, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Six new inbred maize lines with resistance to aflatoxin contamination have now been registered in the United States by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS). ARS plant pathologist Robert ...

Helpful yeast battles food-contaminating aflatoxin

Jan 27, 2010

Pistachios, almonds and other popular tree nuts might someday be routinely sprayed with a yeast called Pichia anomala. Laboratory and field studies by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) plant physiologist Sui-Sheng (Sylvi ...

Recommended for you

Study indicates large raptors in Africa used for bushmeat

2 minutes ago

Bushmeat, the use of native animal species for food or commercial food sale, has been heavily documented to be a significant factor in the decline of many species of primates and other mammals. However, a new study indicates ...

Noise pollution impacts fish species differently

2 hours ago

Acoustic disturbance has different effects on different species of fish, according to a new study from the Universities of Bristol and Exeter which tested fish anti-predator behaviour.

Invertebrate numbers nearly halve as human population doubles

2 hours ago

Invertebrate numbers have decreased by 45% on average over a 35 year period in which the human population doubled, reports a study on the impact of humans on declining animal numbers. This decline matters because of the enormous ...

Insecticides similar to nicotine widespread in Midwest

3 hours ago

Insecticides similar to nicotine, known as neonicotinoids, were found commonly in streams throughout the Midwest, according to a new USGS study. This is the first broad-scale investigation of neonicotinoid ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Quantum_Conundrum
not rated yet Oct 01, 2010
The hypocrissy is that they are concerned about carcinogens in Corn, but people are still allowed to sell tobacco products...