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Title: The black Aspergillus species of maize and peanuts and their potential for mycotoxin production

item PALENCIA, EDWIN - University Of Georgia
item Hinton, Dorothy
item Bacon, Charles

Submitted to: Toxins
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/19/2010
Publication Date: 3/24/2010
Citation: Palencia, E.R., Hinton, D.M., Bacon, C.W. 2010. The black Aspergillus species of maize and peanuts and their potential for mycotoxin production. Toxins. 2(4):399-416.

Interpretive Summary: A group of black spored fungi referred to as Aspergillus niger, or black aspergilli, is a common contaminants on corn, several important food and feed ingredients, and products made from them. Scientists at the Russell Research Center, Toxicology and Mycotoxin Research Unit, determined the species contaminating corn and peanuts which was based on a molecular procedure they developed. These scientists determined that the identified species have the potential for producing the ochratoxins which is a carcinogenic mycotoxin, with human, livestock and poultry toxicological potential. The toxicological aspects, as well as the interaction of these black aspergilli with corn and peanuts as endophytes are reviewed. Further, work from other scientists demonstrating that the major species identified in US corn and peanuts are also producers of the fumonisins mycotoxins, which were established by unit scientists as being carcinogenic compounds produced by another group of fungi, the Fusarium species. The fumonisins are contributors to several livestock, poultry and human aliments. This review suggests that species of the black aspergilli are contributors to the occurrence of the fumonisins in corn and other cereals and food items and have the potential for producing the ochratoxins. Thus, this information indicates that the black aspergilli are the fungi of recent concern, and must be studied for control measures similar to those being used for the Fusarium fungi.

Technical Abstract: The black spored fungi of the subgenera Circumdata, the section Nigri (=Aspergillus niger group) is reviewed relative to their production of mycotoxins and their effects on plants as pathogens. Molecular methods have revealed more than 18 cryptic species, of which several have been characterized as potential mycotoxin producers. Others are defined as benign relative to their ability to produce mycotoxins. However, these characterizations are based on in vitro culture and toxins production. Several can produce the ochratoxins that are toxic to livestock, poultry, and humans. The black aspergilli produce rots of grapes, maize, and numerous other fruits and grain and they are generally viewed as post-harvest pathogens. Data are review to suggest that black aspergilli, as so many others, are symptomless endophytes. These fungi and their mycotoxins contaminate several major grains, foodstuffs, and products made from them such as wine, and coffee. Evidence is presented that the black aspergilli are producers of other classes of mycotoxins such as the fumonisins, which are known carcinogenic and known prior investigations as being produced by the Fusarium species. Three species are identified in U.S. maize and peanuts as symptomless endophytes, which suggests the potential for concern as pathogens and as a food safety hazard.