Xerophilic fungal species of the genus Aspergillus
are economically highly relevant due to their ability to grow on low water activity substrates causing spoilage of stored goods and animal feeds. These fungi can synthesize a variety of secondary metabolites, many of which show animal toxicity, creating a health risk for food production animals and to humans as final consumers, respectively. Animal feeds used for rabbit, chinchilla and rainbow trout production in Argentina were analysed for the presence of xerophilic Aspergillus
species. High isolation frequencies (>60%) were detected in all the studied rabbit and chinchilla feeds, while the rainbow trout feeds showed lower fungal charge (25%). These section Aspergillus
contaminations comprised predominantly five taxa. Twenty isolates were subjected to taxonomic characterization using both ascospore SEM micromorphology and two independent DNA loci sequencing. The secondary metabolite profiles of the isolates were determined qualitatively by HPLC-MS. All the isolates produced neoechinulin A, 17 isolates were positive for cladosporin and echinulin, and 18 were positive for neoechinulin B. Physcion and preechinulin were detected in a minor proportion of the isolates. This is the first report describing the detailed species composition and the secondary metabolite profiles of Aspergillus
contaminating animal feeds.
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