Mycotoxin problem in Africa: current status, implications to food safety and health and possible management strategies.
ABSTRACT Mycotoxins are toxic secondary metabolites of fungal origin and contaminate agricultural commodities before or under post-harvest conditions. They are mainly produced by fungi in the Aspergillus, Penicillium and Fusarium genera. When ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin, mycotoxins will cause lowered performance, sickness or death on humans and animals. Factors that contribute to mycotoxin contamination of food and feed in Africa include environmental, socio-economic and food production. Environmental conditions especially high humidity and temperatures favour fungal proliferation resulting in contamination of food and feed. The socio-economic status of majority of inhabitants of sub-Saharan Africa predisposes them to consumption of mycotoxin contaminated products either directly or at various points in the food chain. The resulting implications include immuno-suppression, impaired growth, various cancers and death depending on the type, period and amount of exposure. A synergistic effect between mycotoxin exposure and some important diseases in the continent such as malaria, kwashiorkor and HIV/AIDS have been suggested. Mycotoxin concerns have grown during the last few decades because of their implications to human and animal health, productivity, economics of their management and trade. This has led to development of maximum tolerated limits for mycotoxins in various countries. Even with the standards in place, the greatest recorded fatal mycotoxin-poisoning outbreak caused by contamination of maize with aflatoxins occurred in Africa in 2004. Pre-harvest practices; time of harvesting; handling of produce during harvesting; moisture levels at harvesting, transportation, marketing and processing; insect damage all contribute to mycotoxin contamination. Possible intervention strategies include good agricultural practices such as early harvesting, proper drying, sanitation, proper storage and insect management among others. Other possible interventions include biological control, chemical control, decontamination, breeding for resistance as well as surveillance and awareness creation. There is need for efficient, cost-effective sampling and analytical methods that can be used for detection analysis of mycotoxins in developing countries.
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ABSTRACT: Aspergillus flavus has received a considerable amount of attention due to its ability to produce aflatoxin, a secondary metabolite that is both immunosuppressive and carcinogenic to animals and humans. Research on aflatoxin over the last 40 years has made it one of the best studied fungal secondary metabolites. In spite of the large volume of research in this area, many unanswered questions remain concerning the genetic regulation of aflatoxin production and the molecular signals that intimately associate the synthesis of aflatoxin with specific environmental and nutritional conditions. It is anticipated that the tools now available in the field of genomics will build upon our existing knowledge and provide answers to some of these questions. Complete genome sequences are now available for a number of fungal species that are closely related to A. flavus. This information can be used along with current genomic analyses in A. flavus to more closely examine the biosynthesis and regulation of secondary metabolism. The intent of this review is to summarize the large body of knowledge that exists from many years of research on A. flavus, with the hope that this information in the light of new genomic studies may bring scientists closer to unraveling the web of regulatory circuits that govern aflatoxin biosynthesis. Specifically, scientific findings in the following areas will be presented: classification and phylogenetic analyses of A. flavus, population biology, ecology and pathogenicity in agricultural environments, classical genetics including linkage group and mutant analyses, gene clusters, regulation of aflatoxin biosynthesis, and genomics.11/2003; 22(2-3):423-459.
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ABSTRACT: The mold incidence, moisture contents, pH and levels of mycotoxins (aflatoxins B1, G1 and ochratoxin A) on/of/in rootstock snack (tubers of Cyperus esculentus L.) samples were monitored during a 150-day storage period. Whereas the mold incidence, moisture and mycotoxin levels increased with storage time, the pH declined during the same period. Altogether, 12 fungal species, mostly toxigenic, including Aspergillus flavus, A. parasiticus and A. ochraceus were isolated. At collection period only 3 of the 9 snack samples analysed contained trace amounts of aflatoxins. By 120th day, all the 9 samples were contaminated and the average levels were 454 and 80 ppb for aflatoxin B1 and aflatoxin G1 respectively on the 150th day. Ochratoxin A was not detected before 120th day and then only at low levels, occurring in a maximum of four-samples and ranging between 10 and 80 ppb.Mycopathologia 11/1993; 124(1):41-6. · 1.49 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Fifteen wheat varieties commercially grown in Kenya were tested for their susceptibility to head blight and mycotoxin accumulation after inoculation with Fusarium graminearum in pot experiments. The strains of the pathogen used had been isolated from wheat collected in different growing areas of Kenya. Head blight susceptibility was assessed as the percentage of spikelets bleached and area under disease progress curve; kernel colonization by fungal mycelium was determined as ergosterol content. All varieties were found to be moderately to highly susceptible. However, the varieties differed in head blight susceptibility (29–68% of spikelets bleached; mean 54%), fungal colonization (67–187 μg/g ergosterol content; mean 111 μg/g) and the resulting mycotoxin contamination [deoxynivalenol (DON) 5–31 μg/g; mean 13.5 μg/g]. Grain weight reductions due to head blight ranged from 23 to 57% (mean 44%). The varieties could be therefore divided into partially resistant and highly susceptible genotypes. The kernels of highly susceptible varieties had higher mycotoxin and ergosterol contents. However, the kernels of some varieties contained more fungal mycelium (ergosterol) without the corresponding high amounts of DON, suggesting that they possess some resistance to DON accumulation. Less susceptible varieties showed resistance to fungal spread, as indicated by a slow disease development and lower content of fungal biomass.Journal of Phytopathology 03/2002; 150(1):30 - 36. · 1.00 Impact Factor