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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Research Project: Aflatoxin Mitigation Using Biocontrol in Maize and Groundnut in Zambia

Location: Food and Feed Safety Research

2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
Train and assist scientists based in Africa with the development of biological control for the management of aflatoxins in Zambia with the goal of optimizing the use of native microbials for the practical management of aflatoxin contamination.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
In collaboration between International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS), and Zambia Agriculture Research Institute (ZARI), potential biological control agents will be collected from soils and crops collected in the target country. Techniques will be developed to provide information useful in selecting optimal biological control strains. Assistance will be provided for the training of African scientists in order to improve the capacity of the target nations to contribute improvements to biological control. Field and laboratory experience will be used to troubleshoot problems associated with adapting biological control to the target areas.


3.Progress Report:

This research project is a collaboration between the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), the University of Arizona, and the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and research is carried out in laboratories of both organizations and in farmers’ fields. The work is funded by the Zambia National Mission of the United States Agency for International Development. IITA has its hub in Southern Africa based in Lusaka and several previous collaborators with our lab reside in Zambia. The effective within country interactions have allowed the project to get underway relatively quickly in the first year. Extensive samplings of the corn and peanut crops and associated soils have been performed. Aspergillus (A.) flavus isolates were isolated, purified, and put through initial classification at the IITA lab in Ibadan. Isolates were imported under a permit from United States Department of Agricultural (USDA), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to the ARS laboratory in Tucson, AZ, at the University of Arizona and isolates were further characterized in order to select initial isolates for use in biological control of aflatoxin contamination in Zambia. Based on molecular characteristics, culture behavior, and distribution in the Easter Province of Zambia, 8 atoxigenic strains of A. flavus were selected for initial screening in farmer’s fields. A student from Zambia funded by this project joined the lab in Tucson in the fall 2012. ARS researchers, IITA scientists, and Zambia national scientists traveled in maize and groundnut production regions of Zambia twice during the year in order to meet with farmers, sales people in markets, government representatives, personnel at the U.S. Embassy, and industry personnel. Crops and soils were sampled and progress was made in understanding the distribution of aflatoxins in Zambia and paths to implementation for Zambia of biological control of aflatoxins. Overall, this is a well-organized project with several motivated partners. United States Agency for International Development has recently taken an increased role in developing potential projects for dissemination of aflatoxin biocontrol in Zambia.

ARS PI monitoring activities to evaluate research progress included: phone calls/conference calls, on-site Cooperator/ARS meetings, site visits, field days, outreach activities, review of Accomplishment Report.


Last Modified: 4/17/2014
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