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Distribution and Mycotoxigenic Potential of Aspergillus Section Nigri Species in Naturally Contaminated Almonds

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In a previous study, inedible almond pick-out samples were assayed for aflatoxin and aflatoxigenic Aspergillus species. These samples contained high populations of black-spored Aspergillus section Nigri species. To investigate whether these species may contribute to the total potential mycotoxin content of almonds, Aspergillus section Nigri strains were isolated from these samples and assayed for ochratoxin A (OTA) and fumonisin B2 (FB2). The majority of isolates (117 strains, 68%) were identified as Aspergillus tubingensis, which do not produce either mycotoxin. Of the 47 Aspergillus niger and Aspergillus awamori isolates, 34 strains (72%) produced FB2 on CY20S agar, and representative strains produced lower but measurable amounts of FB2 on almond meal agar. No OTA-producing strains of Aspergillus section Nigri were detected. Almond pick-out samples contained no measurable FB2, suggesting that properly dried and stored almonds are not conducive for FB2 production by resident A. niger and A. awamori populations. However, 3 of 21 samples contained low levels (<1.5 ng/g) of OTA, indicating that sporadic OTA contamination may occur but may be caused by OTA-producing strains of other Aspergillus species.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Plant Mycotoxin Research Unit, Albany, California 94710, USA 2: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Plant Mycotoxin Research Unit, Albany, California 94710, USA

Publication date: April 1, 2013

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