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Concept: Aspergillus flavus

171

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

154

Polypores have been applied in traditional Chinese medicine up to the present day, and are becoming more and more popular worldwide. They show a wide range of bioactivities including anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and immuno-enhancing effects. Their secondary metabolites have been the focus of many studies, but the importance of fungal strain for bioactivity and metabolite production has not been investigated so far for these Basidiomycetes. Therefore, we screened several strains from three medicinal polypore species from traditional European medicine: Fomes fomentarius, Fomitopsis pinicola and Piptoporus betulinus. A total of 22 strains were compared concerning their growth rates, optimum growth temperatures, as well as antimicrobial and antifungal properties of ethanolic fruit body extracts. The morphological identification of strains was confirmed based on rDNA ITS phylogenetic analyses. Our results showed that species delimitation is critical due to the presence of several distinct lineages, e.g. within the Fomes fomentarius species complex. Fungal strains within one lineage showed distinct differences in optimum growth temperatures, in secondary metabolite production, and accordingly, in their bioactivities. In general, F. pinicola and P. betulinus extracts exerted distinct antibiotic activities against Bacillus subtilis and Staphylococcus aureus at minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC) ranging from 31-125 μg mL(-1); The antifungal activities of all three polypores against Aspergillus flavus, A. fumigatus, Absidia orchidis and Candida krusei were often strain-specific, ranging from 125-1000 μg mL(-1). Our results highlight that a reliable species identification, followed by an extensive screening for a ‘best strain’ is an essential prerequisite for the proper identification of bioactive material.

Concepts: Metabolism, Fungus, Aspergillus flavus, Ascomycota, Fomitopsidaceae, Fomes fomentarius, Lingzhi mushroom, Agaricomycetes

152

Ruminant diets include cereals, protein feeds, their by-products as well as hay and grass, grass/legume, whole-crop maize, small grain or sorghum silages. Furthermore, ruminants are annually or seasonally fed with grazed forage in many parts of the World. All these forages could be contaminated by several exometabolites of mycotoxigenic fungi that increase and diversify the risk of mycotoxin exposure in ruminants compared to swine and poultry that have less varied diets. Evidence suggests the greatest exposure for ruminants to some regulated mycotoxins (aflatoxins, trichothecenes, ochratoxin A, fumonisins and zearalenone) and to many other secondary metabolites produced by different species of Alternaria spp. (e.g., AAL toxins, alternariols, tenuazonic acid or 4Z-infectopyrone), Aspergillus flavus (e.g., kojic acid, cyclopiazonic acid or β-nitropropionic acid), Aspergillus fuminatus (e.g., gliotoxin, agroclavine, festuclavines or fumagillin), Penicillium roqueforti and P. paneum (e.g., mycophenolic acid, roquefortines, PR toxin or marcfortines) or Monascus ruber (citrinin and monacolins) could be mainly related to forage contamination. This review includes the knowledge of mycotoxin occurrence reported in the last 15 years, with special emphasis on mycotoxins detected in forages, and animal toxicological issues due to their ingestion. Strategies for preventing the problem of mycotoxin feed contamination under farm conditions are discussed.

Concepts: Fungus, Aspergillus flavus, Aflatoxin, Mycotoxin, Aspergillus, Penicillium, Ochratoxin, Mycotoxins

41

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

28

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

28

In recent years, Aspergillus species are reported frequently as aetiological agents of fungal keratitis in tropical countries such as India. Our aim was to evaluate the epidemiological features of Aspergillus keratitis cases over a 3-year period in a tertiary eye care hospital and to determine the antifungal susceptibilities of the causative agents. This study included culture proven Aspergillus keratitis cases diagnosed between September 2005 and August 2008. Data including prevalence, predisposing factors and demography were recorded, the isolates were identified by morphological and molecular methods and the minimum inhibitory concentration values of antifungal agents towards the isolates were determined by the microdilution method. Two hundred Aspergillus isolates were identified among 1737 culture proven cases. Most of the aspergilli (75%) proved to be A. flavus, followed by A. fumigatus (11.5%). Sixteen (8%) isolates belonged to species that are recently identified causative agents of mycotic keratitis. Most of the infected patients (88%) were adults ranging from 21 to 70 years of age. Co-existing ocular disease was confirmed in 16.5% of the patients. Econazole, clotrimazole and ketoconazole were notably active against A. flavus. Aspergillus keratitis is a significant problem in patients with ocular lesions in South-Indian States, warranting early diagnosis and initiation of specific antifungal therapy to improve outcome.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Aspergillus flavus, Ophthalmology, Keratitis, Aspergillus, Aspergillus fumigatus, Ketoconazole, Fungal keratitis

28

Aspergillosis is one of the most common causes of death in captive birds. Aspergillus fumigatus accounts for approximately 95 % of aspergillosis cases and Aspergillus flavus is the second most frequent organism associated with avian infections. In the present study, the fungi were grown from avian clinical samples (post-mortem lung material) and environmental samples (eggs, food and litter). Microsatellite markers were used to type seven clinical avian isolates and 22 environmental isolates of A. flavus. A. flavus was the only species (28 % prevalence) detected in the avian clinical isolates, whereas this species ranked third (19 %) after members of the genera Penicillium (39 %) and Cladosporium (21 %) in the environmental samples. Upon microsatellite analysis, five to eight distinct alleles were detected for each marker. The marker with the highest discriminatory power had eight alleles and a 0.852 D value. The combination of all six markers yielded a 0.991 D value with 25 distinct genotypes. One clinical avian isolate (lung biopsy) and one environmental isolate (egg) shared the same genotype. Microsatellite typing of A. flavus grown from avian and environmental samples displayed an excellent discriminatory power and 100 % reproducibility. This study showed a clustering of clinical and environmental isolates, which were clearly separated. Based upon these results, aspergillosis in birds may be induced by a great diversity of isolates.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Evolution, Biology, Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus, Aspergillus fumigatus, Microsatellite

28

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

28

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

27

OBJECTIVE: The aim of the present study was to assess the anti-Aspergillus activity of culture filtrate of Streptomyces sp. VITSTK7 and biologically synthesized Ag2O/Ag nanoparticles using the culture filtrate of VITSTK7. MATERIAL AND METHODS: Silver nanoparticles were synthesized by biological reduction of silver nitrate using culture filtrate of Streptomyces sp. VITSTK7. The synthesized nanopaticles were characterized for surface plasma resonance peak, X-ray diffraction patterns, shape and size distribution. Inhibition of mycelial growth was used as an index of anti-Aspergillus activity of synthesized nanoparticles. RESULTS: The synthesized nanoparticles were spherical shaped and monodespersive in nature and showed a single surface plasma resonance peak at 420nm. X-ray diffraction patterns displayed typical peaks of crystalline silver oxide and size distribution histograms indicated production of 20-60-nm-size nanoparticles with average size of 35.2nm. The synthesized nanoparticles showed anti-Aspergillus activity against Aspergillus niger, Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus fumigatus with antifungal index in the range of 62-75%. CONCLUSION: Thus the bioconversion of Ag2O/Ag nanoparticles by Streptomyces sp. VITSTK7 could be employed to control Aspergillus pathogenesis. The results of this study suggest that the green synthesis of Ag2O/Ag nanoparticles using marine Streptomyces sp. VITSTK7 yielded 27.9nm sized particles with potential to act against pathogenic Aspergillus species.

Concepts: Bacteria, Diffraction, X-ray, Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus, Aspergillus fumigatus, Human penis size, Silver nitrate