Application of superabsorbent polymers (SAP) as desiccants to dry maize and reduce aflatoxin contamination.
ABSTRACT: The ability of superabsorbent polymers (SAP) in drying maize and controlling aflatoxin contamination was studied under different temperatures, drying times and SAP-to-maize ratios. Temperature and drying time showed significant influence on the aflatoxin formation. SAP-to-maize ratios between 1:1 and 1:5 showed little or no aflatoxin contamination after drying to the optimal moisture content (MC) of 13 %, while for ratios 1:10 and 1:20, aflatoxin contamination was not well controlled due to the overall higher MC and drying time, which made these ratios unsuitable for the drying process. Results clearly show that temperature, frequency of SAP change, drying time and SAP-to-maize ratio influenced the drying rate and aflatoxin contamination. Furthermore, it was shown that SAP had good potential for grain drying and can be used iteratively, which can make this system an optimal solution to reduce aflatoxin contamination in maize, particular for developing countries and resource-lacking areas.
Project description:We assess the impact of a package of post-harvest technologies on aflatoxin contamination of maize through a randomized trial in rural Kenya. Some elements of this package (training and provision of plastic sheets for sun-drying) were provided free of charge to all participants in treatment villages and were widely adopted. Others (a mobile drying service and hermetic storage bags) were provided free to a subset of randomly selected farmers in treatment villages while others had to pay. Overall, the intervention reduced aflatoxin contamination by over 50%. Most of this reduction appears to be due training and the use of drying sheets, the lowest-cost of all the technologies offered.
Project description:The effect of superabsorbent polymers (SAPs) on autogenous crack healing in cementitious materials with early-age cracking was investigated. SAP-containing samples exposed to wet/dry cycles showed better autogenous healing than those only exposed to wet conditions, as determined by water flow and compressive strength recovery tests. The water flow rates through cracks (380 ± 40 µm) in cement paste and cement mortar containing 1.0% SAP decreased by around 97.1-100% and 79.7-90.7%, respectively, after 14 cycles of healing compared to 1 cycle. Although the initial compressive strength decreased with SAP addition, it recovered somewhat after a 28-d healing period. Microscopy and spectroscopy results identified CaCO3 and/or calcium silicate hydrate (CSH) as the main healing products.
Project description:Room-temperature ionic liquid (RTIL), which is a liquid salt at or below room temperature, shows peculiar physicochemical properties such as negligible vapor pressure and relatively-high ionic conductivity. In this investigation, we used six types of RTILs as a liquid material in the pretreatment process for scanning electron microscope (SEM) observation of hydrous superabsorbent polymer (SAP) particles. Very clear SEM images of the hydrous SAP particles were obtained if the neat RTILs were used for the pretreatment process. Of them, tri-n-butylmethylphosphonium dimethylphosphate ([P(4, 4, 4, 1)][DMP]) provided the best result. On the other hand, the surface morphology of the hydrous SAP particles pretreated with 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium tetrafluoroborate ([C2mim][BF4]) and 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium tetrafluoroborate ([C4mim][BF4]) was damaged. The results of SEM observation and thermogravimetry analysis of the hydrous SAP pretreated with the RTILs strongly suggested that most water in the SAP particles are replaced with RTIL during the pretreatment process.
Project description:To study the permeability of superabsorbent polymer (SAP) modified concrete and the effect of internal pore characteristics on the permeability of concrete specimens, the results of the water penetration under pressure test, the mercury intrusion porosimetry (MIP) test, and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) of SAP concrete were obtained and analyzed. The research shows that the addition of an appropriate amount of SAP can effectively improve the anti-permeability performance of concrete. After adding 0.2~0.6% SAP of cement quality to concrete, the penetration height value was reduced by 35~45%, the porosity was increased by 21-95%, and the tortuosity is increased by 14-15%, and all indicators show regular changes with the increase in SAP usage. Adding SAP to concrete changes the internal connection state of concrete, thereby further improving its impermeability by reducing the capillary pressure and changing the shape of the pores. The liquid permeation resistance is increased by the "threshold effect" inside concrete; this "threshold effect" is caused by the addition of SAP.
Project description:We describe a simple micropump for disposable microfluidic devices. The pump is constructed using a freeze-dried disc of a superabsorbent polymer (SAP). The disc absorbs a solution in a flow channel and swells upward in a pumping chamber. Despite the simple structure of this device, the rate of absorption remains constant and can be adjusted by changing the composition of the SAP, its size, the dimensions of the flow channel and the medium to be absorbed. The pumping action can be initiated by applying an electrical signal using a switchable hydrophobic valve. The integrated approach of the SAP pump and switchable valve could facilitate the automatic processing of many solutions required for bioassay.
Project description:Aflatoxin contamination of maize grain and products causes serious health problems for consumers worldwide, and especially in low- and middle-income countries where monitoring and safety standards are inconsistently implemented. Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) also compromises the health of millions of maize consumers in several regions of the world including large parts of sub-Saharan Africa. We investigated whether provitamin A (proVA) enriched maize can simultaneously contribute to alleviate both of these health concerns. We studied aflatoxin accumulation in grain of 120 maize hybrids formed by crossing 3 <i>Aspergillus flavus</i> resistant and three susceptible lines with 20 orange maize lines with low to high carotenoids concentrations. The hybrids were grown in replicated, artificially-inoculated field trials at five environments. Grain of hybrids with larger concentrations of beta-carotene (BC), beta-cryptoxanthin (BCX) and total proVA had significantly less aflatoxin contamination than hybrids with lower carotenoids concentrations. Aflatoxin contamination had negative genetic correlation with BCX (-0.28, <i>p</i> < 0.01), BC (-0.18, <i>p</i> < 0.05), and proVA (-0.23, <i>p</i> < 0.05). The relative ease of breeding for increased proVA carotenoid concentrations as compared to breeding for aflatoxin resistance in maize suggests using the former as a component of strategies to combat aflatoxin contamination problems for maize. Our findings indicate that proVA enriched maize can be particularly beneficial where the health burdens of exposure to aflatoxin and prevalence of VAD converge with high rates of maize consumption.
Project description:Key impediments to increased corn yield and quality in the southeastern US coastal plain region are damage by ear-feeding insects and aflatoxin contamination caused by infection of Aspergillus flavus. Key ear-feeding insects are corn earworm, Helicoverpa zea, fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda, maize weevil, Sitophilus zeamais, and brown stink bug, Euschistus servus. In 2006 and 2007, aflatoxin contamination and insect damage were sampled before harvest in three 0.4-hectare corn fields using a grid sampling method. The feeding damage by each of ear/kernel-feeding insects (i.e., corn earworm/fall armyworm damage on the silk/cob, and discoloration of corn kernels by stink bugs), and maize weevil population were assessed at each grid point with five ears. The spatial distribution pattern of aflatoxin contamination was also assessed using the corn samples collected at each sampling point. Aflatoxin level was correlated to the number of maize weevils and stink bug-discolored kernels, but not closely correlated to either husk coverage or corn earworm damage. Contour maps of the maize weevil populations, stink bug-damaged kernels, and aflatoxin levels exhibited an aggregated distribution pattern with a strong edge effect on all three parameters. The separation of silk- and cob-feeding insects from kernel-feeding insects, as well as chewing (i.e., the corn earworm and maize weevil) and piercing-sucking insects (i.e., the stink bugs) and their damage in relation to aflatoxin accumulation is economically important. Both theoretic and applied ramifications of this study were discussed by proposing a hypothesis on the underlying mechanisms of the aggregated distribution patterns and strong edge effect of insect damage and aflatoxin contamination, and by discussing possible management tactics for aflatoxin reduction by proper management of kernel-feeding insects. Future directions on basic and applied research related to aflatoxin contamination are also discussed.
Project description:Maize, the main dietary staple in Kenya, is one of the crops most susceptible to contamination by aflatoxin. To understand sources of aflatoxin contamination for home grown maize, we collected 789 maize samples from smallholder farmers' fields in Eastern and South Western, two regions in Kenya representing high and low aflatoxin risk areas, respectively, and determined aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) using ELISA with specific polyclonal antibodies. AFB1 was detected in 274 of the 416 samples from Eastern Kenya at levels between 0.01 and 9091.8??g?kg-1 (mean 67.8??g?kg-1). In South Western, AFB1 was detected in 233 of the 373 samples at levels between 0.98 and 722.2??g?kg-1 (mean 22.3??g?kg-1). Of the samples containing AFB1, 153 (55.8%) from Eastern and 102 (43.8%) from South Western exceeded the maximum allowable limit of AFB1 (5??g?kg-1) in maize for human consumption in Kenya. The probable daily intake (PDI) of AFB1 in Eastern Kenya ranged from 0.07 to 60612?ng?kg-1 bw day-1 (mean 451.8?ng?kg-1 bw day-1), while for South Western, PDI ranged from 6.53 to 4814.7?ng?kg-1 bw day-1 (mean 148.4?ng?kg-1 bw day-1). The average PDI for both regions exceeded the estimated provisional maximum tolerable daily intake of AFB1, which is a health concern for the population in these regions. These results revealed significant levels of preharvest aflatoxin contamination of maize in both regions. Prevention of preharvest infection of maize by toxigenic A. flavus strains should be a critical focal point to prevent aflatoxin contamination and exposure.
Project description:A series of novel superabsorbent composites of poly(acrylic acid)/semicoke were prepared by polymerization of acrylic acid using ammonium persulphate as initiator, N,N'-methylenebisacrylamide as crosslinker and semicoke which was the by-product of coal carbonizing as the inorganic components. FTIR and SEM analysis indicated that the superabsorbent composites had been successfully polymerized and the semicoke participated in construction of the 3D polymeric network. Meanwhile, the effects of initiator, crosslinker, semicoke, and neutralization degree, as well as the pH value, were investigated, and the results showed that superabsorbent composites containing 10% of semicoke possessed the maximum water absorbency of 584 g/g in distilled water and 75 g/g in 0.9% NaCl solution. The superabsorbent composites kept the high water absorbency within a wide pH range of 4-11, and still exhibited better re-swelling capability even after seven times. The superabsorbent composite with its excellent performance is a potential water-retaining agent used in agriculture.
Project description:Cadmium (Cd) has the potential to be chronically toxic to humans through contaminated crop products. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) can move systemically in plants. To investigate the roles of long-distance moving xylem miRNAs in regulating maize response to Cd stress, three xylem sap small RNA (sRNA) libraries were constructed for high-throughput sequencing to identify potential mobile miRNAs in Cd-stressed maize seedlings and their putative targets in maize transcriptomes. In total, about 199 miRNAs (20?22 nucleotides) were identified in xylem sap from maize seedlings, including 97 newly discovered miRNAs and 102 known miRNAs. Among them, 10 miRNAs showed differential expression in xylem sap after 1 h of Cd treatment. Two miRNAs target prediction tools, psRNAtarget (reporting the inhibition pattern of cleavage) and DPMIND (discovering Plant MiRNA-Target Interaction with degradome evidence), were used in combination to identify, via bioinformatics, the targets of 199 significantly expressed miRNAs in maize xylem sap. The integrative results of these two bioinformatic tools suggested that 27 xylem sap miRNAs inhibit 34 genes through cleavage with degradome evidence. Moreover, nearly 300 other genes were also the potential miRNAs cleavable targets without available degradome data support, and the majority of them were enriched in abiotic stress response, cell signaling, transcription regulation, as well as metal handling. These approaches and results not only enhanced our understanding of the Cd-responsive long-distance transported miRNAs from the view of xylem sap, but also provided novel insights for predicting the molecular genetic mechanisms mediated by miRNAs.