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Characterization and competitive ability of non-aflatoxigenic Aspergillus flavus isolated from the maize agro-ecosystem in Argentina as potential aflatoxin biocontrol agents
- Alaniz Zanon, María Silvina, Clemente, María Paz, Chulze, Sofía Noemí
- International journal of food microbiology 2018 v.277 pp. 58-63
- Aspergillus flavus, aflatoxin B1, agroecosystems, biological control, biological control agents, competitive exclusion, corn, crops, cyclopiazonic acid, field experimentation, morphs, sclerotia, secondary infection, seeds, soil, soil sampling, toxigenic strains, Argentina
- Aspergillus flavus is an opportunistic pathogen and may produce aflatoxins in maize, one of the most important crops in Argentina. A promising strategy to reduce aflatoxin accumulation is the biological control based on competitive exclusion. In order to select potential biocontrol agents among isolates from the maize growing region in Argentina, a total of 512 A. flavus strains were isolated from maize kernels and soil samples. Thirty-six per cent of the isolates from maize kernels did not produce detectable levels of aflatoxins, while 73% of the isolates from soil were characterized as non-aflatoxin producers. Forty percent and 49% of the isolates from maize kernels and soil samples, respectively, were not producers of cyclopiazonic acid (CPA). Sclerotia morphology was evaluated using Czapek Dox media. Eighty-six per cent of the isolates from maize kernels and 85% of the isolates from soil samples were L sclerotia morphotype (average diameter > 400 μm). The remaining isolates did not produce sclerotia. All isolates had MAT 1-1 idiomorph. The competitive ability of 9 non aflatoxigenic strains, 4 CPA(+) and 5 CPA(−), was evaluated in co-inoculations of maize kernels with an aflatoxigenic strain. All evaluated strains significantly (p < 0.05) reduced aflatoxin contamination in maize kernels. The aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) reduction ranged from 6 to 60%. The strain A. flavus ARG5/30 isolated from maize kernels would be a good candidate as a potential biocontrol agent to be used in maize, since it was characterized as neither aflatoxin nor CPA producer, morphotype L, MAT 1-1 idiomorph, and reduced AFB1 content in maize kernels by 59%. This study showed the competitive ability of potential aflatoxin biocontrol agents to be evaluated under field trials in a maize agro-ecosystem in Argentina.