peppers are among the most popular horticultural crops produced and consumed worldwide. This study aimed to assess the occurrence of spoilage fungi responsible for post-harvest losses in the most common varieties of Capsicum
peppers collected from retail markets in Nigeria and Ghana. Forty fungal isolates belonging to 7 families, 8 genera, and 17 species were identified on the basis of morphology, culture characteristics, and DNA sequencing of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region. Aspergillus
spp. (42.5%), Fusarium
spp. (22.5%), and Colletotrichum
spp. (15%) were found to be the predominant fungal pathogens. Furthermore, potential ability of the isolated mycotoxigenic fungi to produce some major mycotoxins was analyzed using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Among the 22 isolates analyzed, 11 strains belonging to the genera of Aspergillus
were found to be able to produce mycotoxins, such as aflatoxin B1, gliotoxin, deoxynivalenol, and citrinin. A better understanding of the role of fungal contaminants in pepper fruits, especially the prevalence of mycotoxigenic fungi and their associated mycotoxigenic potential, will assist in the development of management strategies to control mycotoxin contamination and to reduce toxicological risks related to pepper consumption by humans and animals.
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