Molasses supplementation promotes conidiation but suppresses aflatoxin production by small sclerotial Aspergillus flavus

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Abstract

Aims

To find a supplemental ingredient that can be added to routinely used growth media to increase conidial production and decrease aflatoxin biosynthesis in small sclerotial (S strain) isolates of Aspergillus flavus.

Methods and Results

Molasses was added to three commonly used culture media: coconut agar (CAM), potato dextrose agar (PDA), and vegetable juice agar (V8) and production of conidia, sclerotia, and aflatoxins by A. flavus isolate CA43 was determined. The effect of nitrogen sources in molasses medium (MM) on production of conidia, sclerotia and aflatoxins was examined. Water activity and medium pH were also measured. Conidia harvested from agar plates were counted using a haemocytometer. Sclerotia were weighed after drying at 45°C for 5 days. Aflatoxins B1 and B2 were quantified by high-performance liquid chromatography. Addition of molasses to the media did not change water activity or the pH significantly. Supplementing CAM and PDA with molasses increased conidial production and decreased aflatoxins. Two-fold increased yield of conidia was found on MM, which, like V8, did not support aflatoxin production. Adding ammonium to MM significantly increased the production of sclerotia and aflatoxins, but slightly decreased conidial production. Adding urea to MM significantly increased the production of conidia, sclerotia and aflatoxins.

Conclusions

Molasses stimulated conidial production and inhibited aflatoxin production. Its effect on sclerotial production was medium-dependent. Water activity and medium pH were not related to changes in conidial, sclerotial or aflatoxin production. Medium containing molasses alone or molasses plus V8 juice were ideal for conidial production by S strain A. flavus.

Significance and Impact of the Study

Insight into molecular events associated with the utilization of molasses may help to elucidate the mechanism(s) that decreases aflatoxin biosynthesis. Targeting genetic parameters in S strain A. flavus isolates may reduce aflatoxin contamination of crops by reducing the survival and toxigenicity of these strains.

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