African Journal of Biotechnology

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Occurrence of aflatoxin contamination in maize kernels and molecular characterization of the producing organism, Aspergillus

Muthusamy Karthikeyan, Arumugam Karthikeyan, Rethinasamy Velazhahan, Srinivasan Madhavan, Thangamuthu Jayaraj


Aflatoxins are toxic metabolites produced mainly by Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. Aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) is a potent carcinogen, teratogen and mutagen. 660 pre- and post- harvest maize samples were collected from major maize growing areas in Tamil Nadu, India. Aflatoxin contamination was observed in 40.22% of the samples tested of which, 22.97% of pre-harvest and 53.93% post-harvest maize samples were found to be infected with AFB1 and 12.05% of the total samples exceeded WHO permissible limit of 20 μg/kg. AFB1 contamination ranged from 0 to 149.32 μg/kg. 28 A. flavus isolates were isolated and grouped into three sets based on aflatoxin producing potential viz., highly aflatoxin producing isolates, medium producing isolates and no aflatoxin producer or traces of aflatoxin producing isolates. The genetic coefficient matrix analysis using random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) with ten random primers revealed minimum and maximum percent similarities among the tested A. flavus strains ranging from 35 to 89%. Cluster analysis separated the three sets of isolates into two groups (groups I and II) with each two subgroup confirming the genetic diversity among the A. flavus isolates from maize.

Keywords: Maize, survey, Aspergillus flavus, aflatoxin, random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD).

African Journal of Biotechnology Vol. 12(40), pp. 5839-5844
AJOL African Journals Online