Provitamin A Carotenoids in Grain Reduce Aflatoxin Contamination of Maize While Combating Vitamin A Deficiency.
ABSTRACT: 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 Aspergillus flavus 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, p < 0.01), BC (-0.18, p < 0.05), and proVA (-0.23, p < 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: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:Genome-wide association analysis in CIMMYT's association panel revealed new favorable native genomic variations in/nearby important genes such as hydroxylases and CCD1 that have potential for carotenoid biofortification in maize. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have been used extensively to identify allelic variation for genes controlling important agronomic and nutritional traits in plants. Provitamin A (proVA) enhancing alleles of lycopene epsilon cyclase (LCYE) and ?-carotene hydroxylase 1 (CRTRB1), previously identified through candidate-gene based GWAS, are currently used in CIMMYT's maize breeding program. The objective of this study was to identify genes or genomic regions controlling variation for carotenoid concentrations in grain for CIMMYT's carotenoid association mapping panel of 380 inbred maize lines, using high-density genome-wide platforms with ~476,000 SNP markers. Population structure effects were minimized by adjustments using principal components and kinship matrix with mixed models. Genome-wide linkage disequilibrium (LD) analysis indicated faster LD decay (3.9 kb; r (2) = 0.1) than commonly reported for temperate germplasm, and therefore the possibility of achieving higher mapping resolution with our mostly tropical diversity panel. GWAS for various carotenoids identified CRTRB1, LCYE and other key genes or genomic regions that govern rate-critical steps in the upstream pathway, such as DXS1, GGPS1, and GGPS2 that are known to play important roles in the accumulation of precursor isoprenoids as well as downstream genes HYD5, CCD1, and ZEP1, which are involved in hydroxylation and carotenoid degradation. SNPs at or near all of these regions were identified and may be useful target regions for carotenoid biofortification breeding efforts in maize; for example a genomic region on chromosome 2 explained ~16% of the phenotypic variance for ?-carotene independently of CRTRB1, and a variant of CCD1 that resulted in reduced ?-cryptoxanthin degradation was found in lines that have previously been observed to have low proVA degradation rates.
Project description:The primary maize (Zea mays L.) production areas are in temperate regions throughout the world and this is where most maize breeding is focused. Important but lower yielding maize growing regions such as the sub-tropics experience unique challenges, the greatest of which are drought stress and aflatoxin contamination. Here we used a diversity panel consisting of 346 maize inbred lines originating in temperate, sub-tropical and tropical areas testcrossed to stiff-stalk line Tx714 to investigate these traits. Testcross hybrids were evaluated under irrigated and non-irrigated trials for yield, plant height, ear height, days to anthesis, days to silking and other agronomic traits. Irrigated trials were also inoculated with Aspergillus flavus and evaluated for aflatoxin content. Diverse maize testcrosses out-yielded commercial checks in most trials, which indicated the potential for genetic diversity to improve sub-tropical breeding programs. To identify genomic regions associated with yield, aflatoxin resistance and other important agronomic traits, a genome wide association analysis was performed. Using 60,000 SNPs, this study found 10 quantitative trait variants for grain yield, plant and ear height, and flowering time after stringent multiple test corrections, and after fitting different models. Three of these variants explained 5-10% of the variation in grain yield under both water conditions. Multiple identified SNPs co-localized with previously reported QTL, which narrows the possible location of causal polymorphisms. Novel significant SNPs were also identified. This study demonstrated the potential to use genome wide association studies to identify major variants of quantitative and complex traits such as yield under drought that are still segregating between elite inbred lines.
Project description:Aflatoxins are toxic fungal metabolites produced by Aspergillus sp. with carcinogenic properties that are a common food contaminant of many crops including maize and peanuts. In Timor-Leste malnutrition and children's stunting are frequent and maize and peanuts are staple foods. This study aimed to provide information on aflatoxin exposure nationally. The study measured levels of aflatoxin in locally-produced maize and peanuts (296 samples) and of aflatoxin-albumin conjugate in blood samples of women and young children (514 and 620 respectively) across all municipalities. The average concentration of aflatoxin in the grain samples was low with most maize (88%) and peanut (92%) samples - lower than European Commission tolerated aflatoxin level. Although aflatoxin-albumin conjugate was detected in more than 80% of blood samples, the average concentration in children and adults of 0.64 and 0.98 pg mg-1 alb, respectively, is much lower than in other similar rural-based countries. Although low in concentration, blood aflatoxin levels and aflatoxin contamination levels in maize across municipalities were correlated significantly for mothers (R2 = 37%, n = 495) but not for children (R2 = 10%). It is unlikely that the consumption of aflatoxin contaminated grain is a causative factor in the current level of malnutrition and stunting affecting Timor-Leste children.
Project description:Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is a global health problem; many people around the world, especially children and pregnant women, are VAD deficient or insufficient. Maize is known as an important source of provitamin A for humans. Hence, enhancement of provitamin A carotenoids (pVAC) in maize varieties through breeding or biofortification is a good option for alleviating VAD in developing countries, especially India. So far, numerous maize hybrids have been developed in India. Among them, CO6, derived from UMI1200 × UMI1230, is a popular maize hybrid and adapted to different agro-climatic zones of India, especially Tamil Nadu, a southern state of India. However, CO6 is deficient for pVAC carotenoid ?-carotene. Thus, the objectives of this study were to increase the ?-carotene concentration in UMI1200 and UMI1230 and generate the ?-carotene enriched hybrids through marker-assisted backcross breeding (MABB). For this purpose, the maize genotype HP467-15 was used as the donor for transferring the ?-carotene gene, crtRB1, into UMI1200 and UMI1230. In the MABB scheme, we used one gene-specific marker (crtRB1 3'TE) and 214 simples sequence repeat (SSR) markers for foreground and background selection, respectively. As a result, six improved lines with recurrent parent genome recovery (RPGR) ranging from 90.24 to 92.42%, along with good agronomic performance, were generated. The ?-carotene concentration of the improved lines ranged from 7.056 to 9.232 ?g/g. Furthermore, five hybrid combinations were generated using improved lines and evaluated in a comparative yield trial (CYT) and multi-location trials (MLT) along with the original hybrid CO6 and commercial hybrids. It was revealed that ACM-M13-002 was a superior hybrid with a 7.3-fold increase in ?-carotene concentration and with a comparable yield to CO6. In summary, the improved maize inbreds can be used as possible donors for the development of ?-carotene-rich cultivars in maize breeding programs and the ?-carotene enriched hybrid developed in this study will hold great promise for food and nutritional security.
Project description:Maize infected by aflatoxin-producing Aspergillus flavus may become contaminated with aflatoxins, and as a result, threaten human health, food security and farmers' income in developing countries where maize is a staple. Environmental distribution and genetic diversity of A. flavus can influence the effectiveness of atoxigenic isolates in mitigating aflatoxin contamination. However, such information has not been used to facilitate selection and deployment of atoxigenic isolates. A total of 35 isolates of A. flavus isolated from maize samples collected from three agro-ecological zones of Nigeria were used in this study. Ecophysiological characteristics, distribution and genetic diversity of the isolates were determined to identify vegetative compatibility groups (VCGs). The generated data were used to inform selection and deployment of native atoxigenic isolates to mitigate aflatoxin contamination in maize. In co-inoculation with toxigenic isolates, atoxigenic isolates reduced aflatoxin contamination in grain by > 96%. A total of 25 VCGs were inferred from the collected isolates based on complementation tests involving nitrate non-utilizing (nit(-)) mutants. To determine genetic diversity and distribution of VCGs across agro-ecological zones, 832 nit(-) mutants from 52 locations in 11 administrative districts were paired with one self-complementary nitrate auxotroph tester-pair for each VCG. Atoxigenic VCGs accounted for 81.1% of the 153 positive complementations recorded. Genetic diversity of VCGs was highest in the derived savannah agro-ecological zone (H = 2.61) compared with the southern Guinea savannah (H = 1.90) and northern Guinea savannah (H = 0.94) zones. Genetic richness (H = 2.60) and evenness (E5 = 0.96) of VCGs were high across all agro-ecological zones. Ten VCGs (40%) had members restricted to the original location of isolation, whereas 15 VCGs (60%) had members located between the original source of isolation and a distance > 400 km away. The present study identified widely distributed VCGs in Nigeria such as AV0222, AV3279, AV3304 and AV16127, whose atoxigenic members can be deployed for a region-wide biocontrol of toxigenic isolates to reduce aflatoxin contamination in maize.
Project description:Aflatoxin contamination is associated with the development of aflatoxigenic fungi such as Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus on food grains. This study was aimed at investigating metabolites produced during fungal development on maize and their correlation with aflatoxin levels. Maize cobs were harvested at R3 (milk), R4 (dough), and R5 (dent) stages of maturity. Individual kernels were inoculated in petri dishes with four doses of fungal spores. Fungal colonisation, metabolite profile, and aflatoxin levels were examined. Grain colonisation decreased with kernel maturity: milk-, dough-, and dent-stage kernels by approximately 100%, 60%, and 30% respectively. Aflatoxin levels increased with dose at dough and dent stages. Polar metabolites including alanine, proline, serine, valine, inositol, iso-leucine, sucrose, fructose, trehalose, turanose, mannitol, glycerol, arabitol, inositol, myo-inositol, and some intermediates of the tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA—also known as citric acid or Krebs cycle) were important for dose classification. Important non-polar metabolites included arachidic, palmitic, stearic, 3,4-xylylic, and margaric acids. Aflatoxin levels correlated with levels of several polar metabolites. The strongest positive and negative correlations were with arabitol (R = 0.48) and turanose and (R = −0.53), respectively. Several metabolites were interconnected with the TCA; interconnections of the metabolites with the TCA cycle varied depending upon the grain maturity.
Project description:Aflatoxins are highly toxic carcinogens that detrimentally influence profitability of agriculture and the health of humans and domestic animals. Several phylogenetically distinct fungi within Aspergillus section Flavi have S-morphology (average sclerotial size < 400 ?m), and consistently produce high concentrations of aflatoxins in crops. S-morphology fungi have been implicated as important etiologic agents of aflatoxin contamination in the United States (US), but little is known about the diversity of these fungi. The current study characterized S-morphology fungi (n = 494) collected between 2002 and 2017, from soil and maize samples, in US regions where aflatoxin contamination is a perennial problem. Phylogenetic analyses based on sequences of the calmodulin (1.9 kb) and nitrate reductase (2.1 kb) genes resolved S-morphology isolates from the US into four distinct clades: (1) Aspergillus flavus S-morphotype (89.7%); (2) Aspergillus agricola sp. nov. (2.4%); (3) Aspergillus texensis (2.2%); and (4) Aspergillus toxicus sp. nov. (5.7%). All four S-morphology species produced high concentrations of aflatoxins in maize at 25, 30, and 35°C, but only the A. flavus S-morphotype produced unacceptable aflatoxin concentrations at 40°C. Genetic typing of A. flavus S isolates using 17 simple sequence repeat markers revealed high genetic diversity, with 202 haplotypes from 443 isolates. Knowledge of the occurrence of distinct species and haplotypes of S-morphology fungi that are highly aflatoxigenic under a range of environmental conditions may provide insights into the etiology, epidemiology, and management of aflatoxin contamination in North America.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Aspergillus flavus infection and aflatoxin contamination of maize pose negative impacts in agriculture and health. Commercial maize hybrids are generally susceptible to this fungus. Significant levels of host plant resistance have been observed in certain maize inbred lines. This study was conducted to identify maize genes associated with host plant resistance or susceptibility to A. flavus infection and aflatoxin accumulation. RESULTS: Genome wide gene expression levels with or without A. flavus inoculation were compared in two resistant maize inbred lines (Mp313E and Mp04:86) in contrast to two susceptible maize inbred lines (Va35 and B73) by microarray analysis. Principal component analysis (PCA) was used to find genes contributing to the larger variances associated with the resistant or susceptible maize inbred lines. The significance levels of gene expression were determined by using SAS and LIMMA programs. Fifty candidate genes were selected and further investigated by quantitative RT-PCR (qRT-PCR) in a time-course study on Mp313E and Va35. Sixteen of the candidate genes were found to be highly expressed in Mp313E and fifteen in Va35. Out of the 31 highly expressed genes, eight were mapped to seven previously identified quantitative trait locus (QTL) regions. A gene encoding glycine-rich RNA binding protein 2 was found to be associated with the host hypersensitivity and susceptibility in Va35. A nuclear pore complex protein YUP85-like gene was found to be involved in the host resistance in Mp313E. CONCLUSION: Maize genes associated with host plant resistance or susceptibility were identified by a combination of microarray analysis, qRT-PCR analysis, and QTL mapping methods. Our findings suggest that multiple mechanisms are involved in maize host plant defense systems in response to Aspergillus flavus infection and aflatoxin accumulation. These findings will be important in identification of DNA markers for breeding maize lines resistant to aflatoxin accumulation.
Project description:The present study sought to identify household risk factors associated with aflatoxin contamination within and across diverse Indian food systems and to evaluate their utility in risk modeling. Samples (n = 595) of cereals, pulses, and oil seeds were collected from 160 households across four diverse districts of India and analyzed for aflatoxin B1 using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Demographic information, food and cropping systems, food management behaviors, and storage environments were profiled for each household. An aflatoxin detection risk index was developed based on household-level features and validated using a repeated 5-fold cross-validation approach. Across districts, between 30-80% of households yielded at least one contaminated sample. Aflatoxin B1 detection rates and mean contamination levels were highest in groundnut and maize, respectively, and lower in other crops. Landholding had a positive univariate effect on household aflatoxin detection, while storage conditions, product source, and the number of protective behaviors used by households did not show significant effects. Presence of groundnut, post-harvest grain washing, use of sack-based storage systems, and cultivation status (farming or non-farming) were identified as the most contributive variables in stepwise logistic regression and were used to generate a household-level risk index. The index had moderate classification accuracy (68% sensitivity and 62% specificity) and significantly correlated with village-wise aflatoxin detection rates. Spatial analysis revealed utility of the index for identifying at-risk localities and households. This study identified several key features associated with aflatoxin contamination in Indian food systems and demonstrated that household characteristics are substantially predictive of aflatoxin risk.