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Toxins 2018, 10(5), 187;

Metabolites Identified during Varied Doses of Aspergillus Species in Zea mays Grains, and Their Correlation with Aflatoxin Levels

International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Headquarters and West Africa Hub, Ibadan 200001, Nigeria
Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, The University of Queensland Health and Food Sciences Precinct, Coopers Plains, Brisbane, QLD 4108, Australia
Metabolomics Australia, Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia
Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine, Toronto, ON M1G 5M5, Canada
School of Pharmacy, The University of Queensland, Woolloongabba, Brisbane, QLD 4102, Australia
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Ecosciences Precinct, Dutton Park, Brisbane, QLD 4102, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 24 April 2018 / Revised: 30 April 2018 / Accepted: 4 May 2018 / Published: 7 May 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Metabolomics in Mycotoxin Research)
PDF [3101 KB, uploaded 9 May 2018]


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. View Full-Text
Keywords: aflatoxin; Aspergillus parasiticus; metabolomics; metabolite; Zea mays aflatoxin; Aspergillus parasiticus; metabolomics; metabolite; Zea mays

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Falade, T.D.O.; Chrysanthopoulos, P.K.; Hodson, M.P.; Sultanbawa, Y.; Fletcher, M.; Darnell, R.; Korie, S.; Fox, G. Metabolites Identified during Varied Doses of Aspergillus Species in Zea mays Grains, and Their Correlation with Aflatoxin Levels. Toxins 2018, 10, 187.

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