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Research Project: Molecular and Environmental Factors Controlling Aflatoxin Reduction by Non-Toxigenic Aspergillus Strains

Location: Food and Feed Safety Research

Title: Practical considerations will ensure the continued success of pre-harvest biocontrol using non-aflatoxigenic Aspergillus flavus strains

item Moore, Geromy

Submitted to: Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/6/2021
Publication Date: 1/28/2021
Citation: Moore, G.G. 2021. Practical considerations will ensure the continued success of pre-harvest biocontrol using non-aflatoxigenic Aspergillus flavus strains. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 1-18.

Interpretive Summary: Use of naturally occurring, aflatoxin non-producing strains of Aspergillus flavus as biocontrol is highly effective at mitigating aflatoxin contamination, and is gaining in popularity around the world. However, when A. flavus became commercially available, its stability was based on it being an asexual fungus. Two decades later, the sexual state of A. flavus was discovered and recombination on a global scale was reported for the fungus. These findings have potential implications for the stability and effectiveness of biocontrol. This review of the literature highlights the history of A. flavus biocontrol, brings to light its potential to undergo sex and recombination, and offers practical considerations that should be made so we may improve this already-effective aflatoxin-mitigation strategy while preventing possible problems in the future.

Technical Abstract: There is an important reason for the accelerated use of non-aflatoxigenic Aspergillus flavus to mitigate pre-harvest aflatoxin contamination… it is highly effective. It successfully addresses the imperative need for safe food and feed. Now that we have decades of proof of its effectiveness, it is time to refine (improve) several aspects of this strategy. If we are to continue heavily using this form of aflatoxin mitigation, there are considerations we must acknowledge, and actions we must take, to ensure that we are best wielding this strategy to our advantage. The future of non-aflatoxigenic A. flavus as biocontrol necessitates multiple considerations. These include its: (1) potential to produce other mycotoxins, (2) persistence in the field in light of several ecological factors, (3) its reproductive stability, and (4) the mechanism(s) employed that allow it to elicit control over aflatoxigenic strains and species of agricultural importance. We should be practical, critical and thoughtful when it comes to implementing this method of mycotoxin mitigation since these fungi are living organisms that have been adapting, evolving and surviving on this planet for tens-of-millions of years. This document will serve as a comprehensive review of the literature regarding A. flavus biocontrol in light of its potential to undergo sex and recombination.