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Concept: Aflatoxin

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Over the past 20 years, exposure to mycotoxin producing mold has been recognized as a significant health risk. Scientific literature has demonstrated mycotoxins as possible causes of human disease in water-damaged buildings (WDB). This study was conducted to determine if selected mycotoxins could be identified in human urine from patients suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Patients (n = 112) with a prior diagnosis of CFS were evaluated for mold exposure and the presence of mycotoxins in their urine. Urine was tested for aflatoxins (AT), ochratoxin A (OTA) and macrocyclic trichothecenes (MT) using Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assays (ELISA). Urine specimens from 104 of 112 patients (93%) were positive for at least one mycotoxin (one in the equivocal range). Almost 30% of the cases had more than one mycotoxin present. OTA was the most prevalent mycotoxin detected (83%) with MT as the next most common (44%). Exposure histories indicated current and/or past exposure to WDB in over 90% of cases. Environmental testing was performed in the WDB from a subset of these patients. This testing revealed the presence of potentially mycotoxin producing mold species and mycotoxins in the environment of the WDB. Prior testing in a healthy control population with no history of exposure to a WDB or moldy environment (n = 55) by the same laboratory, utilizing the same methods, revealed no positive cases at the limits of detection.

Concepts: Aflatoxin, Mycotoxin, Aspergillus, Chronic fatigue syndrome, Ochratoxin, Mycotoxins, Stachybotrys, Mold

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Aflatoxins (AFs) are highly carcinogenic compounds produced by Aspergillus species in seeds with high lipid and protein contents. It has been known for over 30 years that peptone is not conducive for AF productions, although reasons for this remain unknown.

Concepts: DNA, Amino acid, Fungus, Aspergillus flavus, Aflatoxin, Aspergillus, Peanut, Carcinogen

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Aflatoxin, a mycotoxin found commonly in maize and peanuts worldwide, is associated with liver cancer, acute toxicosis, and growth impairment in humans and animals. In Tanzania, sunflower seeds are a source of snacks, cooking oil, and animal feed. These seeds are a potential source of aflatoxin contamination. However, reports on aflatoxin contamination in sunflower seeds and cakes are scarce. The objective of the current study was to determine total aflatoxin concentrations in sunflower seeds and cakes from small-scale oil processors across Tanzania. Samples of sunflower seeds (n = 90) and cakes (n = 92) were collected across two years, and analyzed for total aflatoxin concentrations using a direct competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). For seed samples collected June-August 2014, the highest aflatoxin concentrations were from Dodoma (1.7-280.6 ng/g), Singida (1.4-261.8 ng/g), and Babati-Manyara (1.8-162.0 ng/g). The highest concentrations for cakes were from Mbeya (2.8-97.7 ng/g), Dodoma (1.9-88.2 ng/g), and Singida (2.0-34.3 ng/g). For seed samples collected August-October 2015, the highest concentrations were from Morogoro (2.8-662.7 ng/g), Singida (1.6-217.6 ng/g) and Mbeya (1.4-174.2 ng/g). The highest concentrations for cakes were from Morogoro (2.7-536.0 ng/g), Dodoma (1.4-598.4 ng/g) and Singida (3.2-52.8 ng/g). In summary, humans and animals are potentially at high risk of exposure to aflatoxins through sunflower seeds and cakes from micro-scale millers in Tanzania; and location influences risk.

Concepts: Aflatoxin, ELISA, ELISPOT, Assay, Eva Engvall, Peanut, Tanzania, Sunflower

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Aflatoxin contamination in peanuts poses major challenges for vulnerable populations of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Developing peanut varieties to combat pre-harvest Aspergillus flavus infection and resulting aflatoxin contamination has thus far remained a major challenge, confounded by highly complex peanut-Aspergilli pathosystem. Our study reports achieving high level of resistance in peanut by over expressing (OE) antifungal plant defensins MsDef1 and MtDef4.2, and through host-induced gene silencing (HIGS) of aflM and aflP genes from the aflatoxin biosynthetic pathway. While the former improves genetic resistance to A. flavus infection, the latter inhibits aflatoxin production in the event of infection providing durable resistance against different Aspergillus flavus morphotypes and negligible aflatoxin content in several peanut events/ lines well. A strong positive correlation was observed between aflatoxin accumulation and decline in transcription of the aflatoxin biosynthetic pathway genes in both OE-Def and HIGS lines. Transcriptomic signatures in the resistant lines revealed key mechanisms such as regulation of aflatoxin synthesis, its packaging and export control, besides the role of reactive oxygen species-scavenging enzymes that render enhanced protection in the OE and HIGS lines. This is the first study to demonstrate highly effective biotechnological strategies for successfully generating peanuts that are near-immune to aflatoxin contamination, offering a panacea for serious food safety, health and trade issues in the semi-arid regions. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Bacteria, Aspergillus flavus, Aflatoxin, Aspergillus, Peanut, Copyright

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Aflatoxins are highly toxic, mutagenic, teratogenic and carcinogenic mycotoxins. Consumption of aflatoxin-contaminated food and commodities poses serious hazards to the health of humans and animals. Turmeric, Curcuma longa L., is a native plant of Southeast Asia and has antimicrobial, antioxidant and antifungal properties. This paper reports the antiaflatoxigenic activities of the essential oil of C. longa and curcumin. The medium tests were prepared with the oil of C. longa, and the curcumin standard at concentrations varied from 0.01% to 5.0%. All doses of the essential oil of the plant and the curcumin standard interfered with mycotoxin production. Both the essential oil and curcumin significantly inhibited the production of aflatoxins; the 0.5% level had a greater than 96% inhibitory effect. The levels of aflatoxin B(1) (AFB(1)) production were 1.0 and 42.7 μg/mL, respectively, for the samples treated with the essential oil of C. longa L. and curcumin at a concentration of 0.5%.

Concepts: Fungus, Aspergillus flavus, Aflatoxin, Mycotoxin, Aspergillus, Curcuma, Turmeric, Curcumin

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Red rice is a fermented product of Monascus spp. It is widely consumed by Malaysian Chinese who believe in its pharmacological properties. The traditional method of red rice preparation disregards safety regulation and renders red rice susceptible to fungal infestation and mycotoxin contamination. A preliminary study was undertaken aiming to determine the occurrence of mycotoxigenic fungi and mycotoxins contamination on red rice at consumer level in Selangor, Malaysia. Fifty red rice samples were obtained and subjected to fungal isolation, enumeration, and identification. Citrinin, aflatoxin, and ochratoxin-A were quantitated by ELISA based on the presence of predominant causal fungi. Fungal loads of 1.4 × 10(4) to 2.1 × 10(6) CFU/g exceeded Malaysian limits. Monascus spp. as starter fungi were present in 50 samples (100 %), followed by Penicillium chrysogenum (62 %), Aspergillus niger (54 %), and Aspergillus flavus (44 %). Citrinin was present in 100 % samples (0.23-20.65 mg/kg), aflatoxin in 92 % samples (0.61-77.33 μg/kg) and Ochratoxin-A in 100 % samples (0.23-2.48 μg/kg); 100 % citrinin and 76.09 % aflatoxin exceeded Malaysian limits. The presence of mycotoxigenic fungi served as an indicator of mycotoxins contamination and might imply improper production, handling, transportation, and storage of red rice. Further confirmatory analysis (e.g., HPLC) is required to verify the mycotoxins level in red rice samples and to validate the safety status of red rice.

Concepts: Fungus, Aspergillus flavus, Aflatoxin, Mycotoxin, Aspergillus, Ascomycota, Penicillium, Mold

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Aspergillus parasiticus produces the minor aflatoxins M(1) (AFM(1)), M(2) (AFM(2)), GM(1) (AFGM(1)), and GM(2) (AFGM(2)), as well as the major aflatoxins B(1) (AFB(1)), B(2) (AFB(2)), G(1) (AFG(1)), and G(2) (AFG(2)). Feeding of A. parasiticus with aspertoxin (12c-hydroxyOMST) caused AFM(1) and AFGM(1), and cell-free experiments using the microsomal fraction of A. parasiticus and aspertoxin caused production of AFM(1), indicating that aspertoxin is a precursor of AFM(1) and AFGM(1). Feeding of the same fungus with O-methylsterigmatocystin (OMST) caused AFM(1) and AFGM(1) together with AFB(1) and AFG(1); feeding with dihydroOMST (DHOMST) caused AFM(2) and AFGM(2) together with AFB(2) and AFG(2). Incubation of either the microsomal fraction or OrdA enzyme-expressing yeast with OMST caused production of aspertoxin together with AFM(1) and AFB(1). These results demonstrated that the OrdA enzyme catalyzes both 12c-hydroxylation reaction from OMST to aspertoxin and the successive reaction from aspertoxin to AFM(1). In contrast, feeding of the fungus with AFB(1) did not produce any AFM(1), demonstrating that M-/GM-aflatoxins are not produced from B-/G-aflatoxins. Furthermore, AFM(1) together with AFB(1) and AFG(1) was also produced from 11-hydroxyOMST (HOMST) in feeding experiment of A. parasiticus, whereas no aflatoxins were produced when used the ordA deletion mutant. These results demonstrated that OrdA enzyme can also catalyze 12c-hydroxylation of HOMST to produce 11-hydroxyaspertoxin, which serves as a precursor for the production of AFM(1) and AFGM(1). The same pathway may work for the production of AFM(2) and AFGM(2) from DHOMST and dihydroHOMST through the formation of dihydroaspertoxin and dihydro-11-hydroxyaspertoxin, respectively.

Concepts: Enzyme, Fungus, Catalysis, Ribozyme, Aspergillus flavus, Aflatoxin, Aspergillus, Aspergillus parasiticus

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Bisphenol A has been widely used in plastic containers and this has raised safety concerns for fetuses, infants, and young children. Aflatoxin B1, ochratoxin A, and patulin are among the most toxic regulated mycotoxins found as contaminants in agricultural crops and animal products. To facilitate the analysis of these chemicals for regulatory purposes, we have developed an analytical method enabling their simultaneous detection in beverages and food products.

Concepts: Fungus, Aflatoxin, Mycotoxin, Bisphenol A, Harvest, Aspergillus, Ochratoxin, Mycotoxins

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The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of essential oil from fresh leaves of Sweet Fennel (Ocimum gratissimum) on mycoflora and Aspergillus section Flavi populations in stored peanuts. Aspergillus, Fusarium and Mucor spp. were the most common genera identified from peanuts at post-harvest in Benin by using a taxonomic schemes primarily based on morphological characters of mycelium and conidia. The isolated fungi include Aspergillus niger, A. parasiticus, A. flavus, A. ochraceus, Fusarium graminearum, F. solani, F. oxysporum and Mucor spp. The most prevalent fungi recorded were A. niger (94.18 %), A. flavus (83.72 %), A. parasiticus (77.90 %), A. ochraceus (72.09 %), F. graminearum (59.30 %) and F. oxysporum (51.16 %). Antifungal assay, performed by the agar medium assay, indicated that essential oil exhibited high antifungal activity against the growth of A. flavus, A. parasiticus, A. ochraceus and F. oxysporium. The minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) of the essential oil was found to be 7.5 μl/ml for A. flavus and A. parasiticus and 5.5 μl/ml for A. ochraceus and F. oxysporium. The minimal fungicidal concentration (MFC) was recorded to be 8.0 μl/ml for A. flavus and A. parasiticus, 6,5 μl/ml for A. ochraceus and 6.0 μl/ml for F. oxysporium. The essential oil was found to be strongly fungicidal and inhibitory to aflatoxin production. Chemical analysis by GC/MS of the components of the oil led to the identification of 31 components characterized by myrcene (6.4 %), α-thujene (8.2 %), p-cymene (17.6 %), γ-terpinene (20.0 %), and thymol (26.9 %) as major components. The essential oil of Sweet Fennel, with fungal growth and mycotoxin inhibitory properties, offers a novel approach to the management of storage, thus opening up the possibility to prevent mold contamination in stored peanuts.

Concepts: Fungus, Aspergillus flavus, Aflatoxin, Mycotoxin, Fusarium, Aspergillus, Ascomycota, Aspergillus niger

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AIMS: Aflatoxin B(1) (AFB(1) ) is considered as the most toxic food contaminant, and microorganisms, especially bacteria, have been studied for their potential to reduce the bioavailability of mycotoxins including aflatoxins. Therefore this research investigated the efficacy of oral administration of Lactobacillus casei Shirota (LcS) in aflatoxin-induced rats. METHODS AND RESULTS: Sprague Dawley rats were divided into three groups of untreated control, the group induced with AFB(1) only, and the group given probiotic in addition to AFB(1) . In the group induced with AFB(1) only, food intake and body weight were reduced significantly. The liver and kidney enzymes were significantly enhanced in both groups induced with AFB(1) , but they were lower in the group given LcS. AFB(1) was detected from all serum samples except for untreated control group’s samples. Blood serum level of AFB(1) in the group induced with AFB(1) only was significantly higher than the group which received probiotic as a treatment (p<0.05), there was no significant difference between the control group and the group treated with probiotic. CONCLUSION: LcS supplementation could improve the adverse effect of AFB(1) induction on rats' body weight, plasma biochemical parameters, and also could reduce the level of AFB(1) in blood serum. SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF STUDY: This study's outcomes contribute to better understanding of the potential of probiotic to reduce the bioavailability ofAFB(1) . Moreover, it can open an opportunity for future investigations to study the efficacy of oral supplementation of probiotic LcS in reducing aflatoxin level in human. © 2013 The Authors Journal of Applied Microbiology © 2013 The Society for Applied Microbiology.

Concepts: Bacteria, Microbiology, Aflatoxin, Probiotic, Lactobacillus, Laboratory rat, Lactobacillus casei, Yakult