Submitted to: Crop Protection Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/13/2011
Publication Date: 1/10/2012
Citation: Accinelli, C., Mariangela, M., Sacca, L., Vicari, A., and Abbas, H. K. 2012. Managing and Monitoring of Aspergillus flavus in Corn Using Bioplastic-based Formulation. Crop Protection Journal. 32: 30-35. Interpretive Summary: Aspergillus flavus is a plant, animal, and human pathogen that produces the carcinogen, aflatoxin. It occurs naturally but some crops like corn are highly susceptible to this fungus and can remain on the kernals after harvest, becoming a threat of poisoning humans and animals. A non-toxic strain of this fungus has shown promise in reducing aflatoxin contamination in corn by outcompeting toxic strains. The non-toxic strain was tested in Italy using a novel method of imbedding the fungus in a starch-based “bioplastic” which enhances its growth and vigor. Forms of this bioplastic can also be used to sample Aspergillus on the ground. Both ideas were successfully tested. The encapsulated A. flavus reduced the occurrence of wild toxic strains in corn and soil, and the bioplastic was successfully used to encapsulate A. flavus found on the ground in corn fields and then strains were measured and compared. There have been previous products using biological control agents to reduce aflatoxin in crops, specifically corn. This product is an advance because it uses a commercial product to hold the biological control agent that has a longer shelf life and enhances the growth of the agent. This new delivery system increases the effectiveness and useful life of the product and makes this more viable for growers to use.
Technical Abstract: In this study, we evaluated the feasibility of bioplastic-based formulations for delivering a non-aflatoxigenic strain of Aspergillus flavus and for monitoring Aspergilli with the final objective of controlling aflatoxin contamination in corn. Field application of inoculated bioplastic granules showed a rapid shift in the composition of soil A. flavus population, with a significant decrease in relative abundance of indigenous aflatoxigenic isolates. Application of bioplastic granules at 30 kg ha-1 was more efficient in replacing aflatoxigenic isolates than a 15 kg ha-1 dosage. At corn maturity in the test plots evaluated, aflatoxin contamination levels were 4.4 and 28.9 ng g-1 for the 2009 and 2010 field seasons, respectively. However, the biocontrol formulation was effective in reducing aflatoxin contamination in both years. More precisely, soil application of 15 and 30 kg ha-1 of bioplastic granules reduced aflatoxin contamination by 59 and 86% in 2009, and 80 and 92% in 2010, respectively.