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Open AccessArticle

Genetic Profiling of Aspergillus Isolates with Varying Aflatoxin Production Potential from Different Maize-Growing Regions of Kenya

1
School of Biological Sciences, University of Nairobi, P.O. Box 30197-00100 Nairobi, Kenya
2
Biosciences Eastern and Central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub, P.O. Box 30709-00100 Nairobi, Kenya
3
Department of Plant Pathology, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Toxins 2019, 11(8), 467; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11080467
Received: 22 June 2019 / Revised: 25 July 2019 / Accepted: 5 August 2019 / Published: 9 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Collection Aflatoxins)
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Abstract

Highly toxigenic strains of Aspergillus flavus have been reported to frequently contaminate maize, causing fatal aflatoxin poisoning in Kenya. To gain insights into the environmental and genetic factors that influence toxigenicity, fungi (n = 218) that were culturally identified as A. flavus were isolated from maize grains samples (n = 120) from three regions of Kenya. The fungi were further characterized to confirm their identities using a PCR-sequence analysis of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of rDNA which also revealed all of them to be A. flavus. A subset of 72 isolates representing ITS sequence-based phylogeny cluster and the agroecological origin of maize samples was constituted for subsequent analysis. The analysis of partial calmodulin gene sequences showed that the subset consisted of A. flavus (87%) and Aspergillus minisclerotigenes (13%). No obvious association was detected between the presence of seven aflatoxin biosynthesis genes and fungal species or region. However, the presence of the aflD and aflS genes showed some association with aflatoxin production. The assessment of toxigenicity showed higher aflatoxin production potential in A. minisclerotigenes isolates. Given that A. minisclerotigenes were mainly observed in maize samples from Eastern Kenya, a known aflatoxin hotspot, we speculate that production of copious aflatoxin is an adaptative trait of this recently discovered species in the region. View Full-Text
Keywords: Aspergillus flavus; Aspergillus minisclerotigenes; internal transcribed spacer; calmodulin; aflatoxigenicity; aflatoxin biosynthesis genes; Kenya Aspergillus flavus; Aspergillus minisclerotigenes; internal transcribed spacer; calmodulin; aflatoxigenicity; aflatoxin biosynthesis genes; Kenya
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Dooso Oloo, R.; Okoth, S.; Wachira, P.; Mutiga, S.; Ochieng, P.; Kago, L.; Nganga, F.; Domelevo Entfellner, J.-B.; Ghimire, S. Genetic Profiling of Aspergillus Isolates with Varying Aflatoxin Production Potential from Different Maize-Growing Regions of Kenya. Toxins 2019, 11, 467.

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