Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: March 13, 2012
Publication Date: March 26, 2012
Citation: Bhatnagar, D. 2012. The “omics” approach for solving the pre-harvest aflatoxin contamination problem: understanding the genomics and metabolomics of the fungus and proteomics of the affected corn crop. In: Fernandez-Luqueno, F., Lopez-Valdez, F., Lozano-Muniz, S., editors. Biotechnology Summit 2012 Conference, March 18-21, 2012, Yucatan, Mexico. pp. 189-193.
Aflatoxins are highly carcinogenic secondary metabolites produced primarily by the fungi Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. Aflatoxin contamination of food and feed has been of particular concern over the last four decades because of the toxicity of these compounds. Regulations exist in over 100 countries of the world against sale of contaminated commodities, causing severe economic burden on the farmers. Therefore, this problem is both a food safety and an economic issue. Now, for the first time control measures for this problem appear within reach. For practical and sustainable control of pre-harvest aflatoxin contamination to be realized, however, additional information is needed about the fungus, the affected crops and the specific molecular factors (both in the plant and the fungus) involved during host plant-fungus interaction. The information derived from the use of novel tools such as genomics, proteomics and metabolomics provides us with the best and the quickest opportunity to achieve a clear understanding of the survival of toxigenic fungi in the field, the ability of the fungus to invade crops, and the process of toxin contamination under various environmental conditions. Significant progress has been made recently in understanding the genomic makeup of the most significant aflatoxin producing field fungus, namely Aspergillus flavus. Progress also has been made in the study of host crop resistance to fungal invasion through the use of proteomics. The information available on production of aflatoxin and other metabolites by Aspergillus flavus is reasonably extensive, although the application of metabolomics as a tool in this study is relatively new. In this presentation, the use of genomics, proteomics and metabolomics in deriving the requisite information for developing effective strategies to interrupt the machinery in the fungus for production of these toxins, as well as to enhance host-resistance against fungal invasion and aflatoxin contamination of crops will be discussed.