Fungal contamination and the consequent mycotoxin production is a hindrance to food and feed safety, international trade and human and animal health. In Africa, fungal contamination by Fusarium
is heightened by tropical climatic conditions that create a suitable environment for pre- and postharvest mycotoxin production. The biocontrol of Fusarium
and its associated fusariotoxins has stagnated at laboratory and experimental levels with species of Trichoderma
and atoxigenic Fusarium
being tested as the most promising candidates. Hitherto, there is no impetus to upscale for field use owing to the inconsistent results of these agents. Non-aflatoxigenic strains of Aspergillus
have been developed to create biocontrol formulations by outcompeting the aflatoxigenic strains, thus thwarting aflatoxins on the target produce by 70% to 90%. Questions have been raised on their ability to produce other mycotoxins like cyclopiazonic acid, to potentially exchange genetic material and to become aflatoxigenic with consequent deleterious effects on other organisms and environments. Other biocontrol approaches to mitigate aflatoxins include the use of lactic acid bacteria and yeast species which have demonstrated the ability to prevent the growth of Aspergillus flavus
and consequent toxin production under laboratory conditions. Nevertheless, these strategies seem to be ineffective under field conditions. The efficacy of biological agents is normally dependent on environmental factors, formulations’ safety to non-target hosts and the ecological impact. Biocontrol agents can only be effectively evaluated after long-term use, causing a never-ending debate on the use of live organisms as a remedy to pests and diseases over the use of chemicals. Biocontrol should be used in conjunction with good agricultural practices coupled with good postharvest management to significantly reduce mycotoxins in the African continent.
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