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ARS Home » Southeast Area » New Orleans, Louisiana » Southern Regional Research Center » Food and Feed Safety Research » Research » Research Project #431821

Research Project: Development of Rapid, Non-Destructive Hyperspectral Imaging Methodology to Detect, and Quantify Fungal Growth and Aflatoxin Contamination

Location: Food and Feed Safety Research

Project Number: 6054-42000-025-13-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 3, 2018
End Date: Sep 2, 2023

Objective:
Identify and quantify corn kernels contaminated with aflatoxin-producing fungi, using non-destructive visible/near infrared (VIS/NIR) and shortwave near infrared (SWIR) hyperspectral imaging systems for elimination from food supply. Produce spectral libraries for fungus alone and corn kernels infected with the fungus. Determine spectral differences between resistant and susceptible corn varieties to aflatoxin contamination and infected and uninfected corn kernels with aflatoxin producing fungi. Develop rapid, non-destructive hyperspectral imaging methodology to measure fungal growth and aflatoxins and spectral signatures associated with traits for resistance to fungal infection and aflatoxin contamination in corn kernels. Test system's effectiveness in identification of contaminated kernels under laboratory and field situations.

Approach:
Corn varieties with varying levels of resistance to aflatoxin producing fungi will be collected and imaged using tabletop hyperspectral scanning imaging systems including VIS/NIR and shortwave near infrared (SWIR) systems. Kernels will be spectrally analyzed to determine how much the visible, near infrared, and shortwave near infrared portions of the electromagnetic spectrum differ from one corn variety to another. Cultures of aflatoxin producing and non-producing fungi will also be imaged and the spectral fingerprints will be collected to produce a "spectral library" of the different strains of fungi. These data will be used to determine if hyperspectral imaging can then be used to differentiate and quantitate the varying fungal strains and/or their aflatoxin production both in pure fungal culture and in fungally infected kernels of resistant or susceptible corn varieties to aflatoxin contamination. Techniques also will be investigated during ongoing experiments to determine the best imaging environment to accomplish hyperspectral analyses, such as type and direction of lighting, for different wavelength ranges. Once appropriate algorithms are developed, the imaging systems will be tested under various laboratory and field experimental conditions to determine the efficacy of the imaging systems.