Journal of Food, Agriculture and Environment

Vol 10, Issue 2,2012
Online ISSN: 1459-0263
Print ISSN: 1459-0255

Fungal and mycotoxin contamination of South African commercial maize


Cynthia Adaku Chilaka 1*, Suretha De Kock 2, Judith Zanele Phoku 1, Mulunda Mwanza 1, Mary Augustina Egbuta 1, Michael Francis Dutton 1

Recieved Date: 2012-01-29, Accepted Date: 2012-04-27


Fungal and mycotoxin contamination of commercial maize from South Africa were assessed. Forty maize samples were randomly collected from several maize consignment delivered to commercial feed companies in Kwazulu Natal in 2010. Fungal screenings of samples were done using the conventional method followed by DNA sequencing. Analyses were done on fungal species isolated to determine their mycotoxigenic potential, while mycotoxins analysis for fumonisins (FB), zearalenone (ZEA), aflatoxin B (AFB) and ochratoxin A (OTA) were assessed using thin layer chromatography (TLC) and high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). The mycological investigation yielded 4 genera of which Fusarium especially F. verticillioides (88%) and F. proliferatum (73%) were predominant. Aspergillus fumigatus (45%) and A. flavus (43%) were the most prominent of Aspergillus genera while among Penicillium, P. digitatum (30%) and P. viridicatum (28%) were dominant. Other members of the genera were yeast species with incident rate of 38% and colony forming units of 2.4×102 cfu/g. Fifty percent of the fungal spp. isolated showed the ability to produce at least one of the mycotoxins tested. The data obtained from HPLC and TLC revealed that the maize samples were contaminated by FB, ZEA, AFB and OTA. Contamination level of mycotoxins on HPLC were found to range from 64 – 1035 ppb, 0 – 135 ppb, 0 – 762 ppb and 0 – 194 ppb for FB, ZEA, AFB and OTA, respectively. Data on TLC also showed the prevalence of FB1 (45%) while AFB, ZEA and OTA were 33%, 30% and 25%, respectively. All samples analysed showed simultaneous occurrence of two or more mycotoxins. These findings demonstrate that maize may contribute to dietary exposure to mycotoxin with resultant health risks.


Maize, fungi, mycotoxins, fumonisin, zearalenone, aflatoxin B, ochratoxin A, chromatography, South Africa

Journal: Journal of Food, Agriculture and Environment
Year: 2012
Volume: 10
Issue: 2
Category: Food and Health
Pages: 296-303

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