Practical implications of aflatoxin contamination in corn

Mencarelli, Mariangela (2012) Practical implications of aflatoxin contamination in corn, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Scienze agroambientali, 24 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/4885.
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Aflatoxin (AFL) contamination of corn is a serious economic and food security issue. Although a variety of technical solutions for reducing AFL contamination of corn have been proposed, only a few have produced satisfactory results. A successful approach is a biocontrol strategy consisting of using non-flatoxigenic strains of Aspergillus flavus to replace indigenous AFL-producing isolates. The main objective of the present thesis was to investigate the dynamic and contamination of AFL/A. flavus in corn in Northern Italy. The study also investigated the role of the key-pest of corn, the European Corn Borer (ECB), on AFL contamination and dispersal of A. flavus propagules in corn. Finally, the study evaluated the feasibility of bioplastic-based granules entrapping a non-aflatoxigenic A. flavus strain for the biocontrol of this fungus in corn. The 2-year field study demonstrated the efficacy of the bioplastic formulation to reduce AFL contamination in corn. More precisely, although AFL contamination varied among the two years, application of 15 and 30 kg ha-1 of granules reduced AFL contamination to up 60 and 85% in 2009 and 2010 respectively. Microbiological analysis showed that the relative abundance of non-aflatoxigenic soil isolates significantly increased after 1 month from granules application (mid-May) and throughout the corn-growing season. These findings were consistent with data obtained using a bioplastic-based bait specifically developed to selectively isolate Aspergilli from soil and other environmental samples. In addition, field and laboratory evaluations showed that the level of damages produced by ECB larvae were not significantly correlated to A. flavus infestation and AFL contamination. Taking together, these findings demonstrated that AFL contamination of corn in Northern Italy was variable, but above the EU limit for human consumption. First proposed in the USA, this study showed the practical possibility of this formulation to be use for reducing AFL contamination in corn in the EU.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Mencarelli, Mariangela
Dottorato di ricerca
Scuola di dottorato
Scienze agrarie
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
Aflatoxins, Aspergillus flavus, Biocontrol, Biodegradable polymers, European Corn Borer
Data di discussione
14 Giugno 2012

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