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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Reducing Aflatoxin Contamination Using Biological Control and Crop Management

Location: U.S. Arid Land Agricultural Research Center

Title: Deadly strains of Kenyan aspergillus are distinct from other aflatoxin producers

Authors
item Probst, Claudia -
item Cotty, Peter
item Callicott, Kenneth

Submitted to: European Journal of Plant Pathology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 20, 2011
Publication Date: November 12, 2011
Citation: Probst, C., Cotty, P.J., Callicott, K.A. 2011. Deadly strains of Kenyan Aspergillus are distinct from other aflatoxin producers. European Journal of Plant Pathology. 132:419-429.

Interpretive Summary: Aflatoxin contamination of crops is a world-wide problem. Lethal aflatoxicosis of humans has been associated with maize produced in Kenya for over three decades. The S strain morphotype of Aspergillus flavus was identified as the primary cause of aflatoxin contamination events occurring between 2004 and 2006 in Kenya. Because the S strain was first described in the U.S., it was suggested that the agent causing lethal levels of aflatoxins was introduced to Kenya with maize. DNA sequence comparisons among 68 S strain isolates from Kenya, the Americas, Asia, and Australia suggest the Kenyan isolates are distinct from those causing aflatoxin contaminations in the U.S.. Analyses of 4.06 kb representing three loci from distinct chromosomes indicate that most S strain isolates from the U.S. resolved into a clade distinct from one containing the 30 Kenyan isolates S strain isolates were more closely related to the recently described species A. minisclerotigenes than to A. flavus. Furthermore, failure of the Kenyan isolates to produce G aflatoxins was attributed to a previously undescribed deletion in the cypA gene, suggesting that different deletion events led to loss of G aflatoxin production in S strain isolates from the U.S. and Kenyan. Thus, although the Kenyan isolates have S strain morphology and produce large quantities of only B aflatoxins like A. flavus S strain isolates, these isolates are phylogenetically divergent from those described from other regions. The molecular characteristics of the Kenyan S strain isolates described herein are valuable tools to identify and track these highly aflatoxigenic fungi.

Technical Abstract: Aflatoxin contamination of crops is a world-wide problem. Lethal aflatoxicosis of humans has been associated with maize produced in Kenya for over three decades. The S strain morphotype of Aspergillus flavus was identified as the primary cause of aflatoxin contamination events occurring between 2004 and 2006 in Kenya. Because the S strain was first described in the U.S., it was suggested that the agent causing lethal levels of aflatoxins was introduced to Kenya with maize. DNA sequence comparisons among 68 S strain isolates from Kenya, the Americas, Asia, and Australia suggest the Kenyan isolates are distinct from those causing aflatoxin contaminations in the U.S.. Analyses of 4.06 kb representing three loci from distinct chromosomes indicate that most S strain isolates from the U.S. resolved into a clade distinct from one containing the 30 Kenyan isolates S strain isolates were more closely related to the recently described species A. minisclerotigenes than to A. flavus. Furthermore, failure of the Kenyan isolates to produce G aflatoxins was attributed to a previously undescribed deletion in the cypA gene, suggesting that different deletion events led to loss of G aflatoxin production in S strain isolates from the U.S. and Kenyan. Thus, although the Kenyan isolates have S strain morphology and produce large quantities of only B aflatoxins like A. flavus S strain isolates, these isolates are phylogenetically divergent from those described from other regions. The molecular characteristics of the Kenyan S strain isolates described herein are valuable tools to identify and track these highly aflatoxigenic fungi.

Last Modified: 11/28/2014
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