Submitted to: World Mycotoxin Journal
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/23/2014
Publication Date: 2/3/2015
Citation: Ehrlich, K., Moore, G.G., Mellon, J.E., Bhatnagar, D. 2015. Challenges facing the biological control strategy for eliminating aflatoxin contamination. World Mycotoxin Journal. 8(2):225-233.
Technical Abstract: Competition with Aspergillus flavus isolates incapable of aflatoxin production is currently the most widely used biocontrol method for reducing aflatoxin contamination of in maize and cottonseed where aflatoxin contamination is a persistent problem for human and animal health. The method involves spreading non-aflatoxigenic A. flavus spores onto the field prior to harvest. In this paper we describe several challenges that this strategy must address. These include the need to better understand the diversity of A. flavus populations in the agricultural soil, the effects of climate change on both this diversity and on plant susceptibility, the ability of the introduced biocontrol strain to outcross with existing aflatoxin-producing A. flavus, the adaptation of certain A. flavus isolates for predominant growth on the plant rather than in the soil, the difficulty in timing the application or controlling the stability of the inoculum, how the introduction of the biocontrol strain affects the soil microenvironment, the potential damage to the plant from the introduced strain, and the need to better understand the entire A. flavus toxin burden that may result from A. flavus contamination beyond that of aflatoxin. In addition, the cost of the biocontrol method and the potential need to continue reapplication seasonally must also be considered in weighing the benefits of biocontrol A. flavus as a means of reducing food and feed contamination with aflatoxin.