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Purpose: To evaluate the mycotoxigenic potential of fungi associated with marketed pawpaw in South Southern Nigeria and the public health significance.
Methods: Pawpaw fruits with lesions or rots were obtained from three different markets in three different states in South Southern Nigeria. Five genera of moulds (Rhizopus, Aspergillus, Fusarium, Curvularia and Trichoderma) were isolated and used for inoculation of sound pawpaw samples at two wound depths of 5 and 7mm with either single or paired cultures. The resultant isolates were evaluated for mycotoxin production using thin layer chromatography and the mycotoxigenic potential of isolates was assessed by animal feeding trial using albino rats of the wistar strain fed orally with different concentrations of the mycotoxin extracts
Results: Mycotoxins were detected from pawpaw samples inoculated with Rhizopus, Aspergillus and Fusarium, before and after autoclaving for 15 min at 121 oC. Wistar rats fed on mycotoxin extracts developed symptoms of neurotoxicity characterized by ascending paralysis, convulsion and respiratory arrest.Conclusion: Most of the fungal isolates in this study showed a great potential for mycotoxin production with associated neurotoxicity which is of concern in public health.
Keywords: Fungi, Pawpaw, Mycotoxins, Neurotoxicity, Public health