Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/17/2008
Publication Date: 4/27/2010
Citation: Yu, J., Chang, P.-K., Cleveland, T.E., Bennett, J.W. 2010. Aflatoxins. In: Encyclopedia of Industrial Biotechnology: Bioprocess, Bioseparation, and Cell Technology, M.C. Flickinger, Editor. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.: Hoboken, New Jersey. pp. 1-12. Interpretive Summary: Aflatoxins are natural secondary metabolites produced by the fungal molds, Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus. Contamination of agricultural commodities by aflatoxins poses serious health hazard to animals and human beings. Due to health and food safety concerns, the mechanism of aflatoxin formation and prevention of aflatoxin contamination have been investigated in great detail. Aspergillus flavus genetics and genomics are the basics for understanding the mechanism of aflatoxin production. In this book chapter, we reported the current progress of the genetics and genomics. The consolidated information will help in devising strategies to reduce or eliminate aflatoxin contamination of food and feed.
Technical Abstract: Aflatoxins are toxic and carcinogenic secondary metabolites produced primarily by the filamentous fungi, Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. Aflatoxin biosynthesis is a quite complex process involving many intermediates and enzymes, regulated at multi-levels. Scientists from biochemistry, molecular biology, and genetics are attracted to the study of its mechanisms of biosynthesis and regulation. Significant progress has been made in the last decade. We have reviewed the aflatoxin biosynthetic pathway, pathway enzymes, and the genes encoding these enzymes involved in the conversion of major aflatoxin intermediates. Genes confirmed to be involved in regulation of aflatoxin formation and control of aflatoxin contamination are summarized as well.