5 years ago

Temporal Effects on Internal Fluorescence Emissions Associated with Aflatoxin Contamination from Corn Kernel Cross-Sections Inoculated with Toxigenic and Atoxigenic Aspergillus flavus.

Hruska, Bhatnagar, Kincaid, Brown, Cleveland, Yao
Non-invasive, easy to use and cost-effective technology offers a valuable alternative for rapid detection of carcinogenic fungal metabolites, namely aflatoxins, in commodities. One relatively recent development in this area is the use of spectral technology. Fluorescence hyperspectral imaging, in particular, offers a potential rapid and non-invasive method for detecting the presence of aflatoxins in maize infected with the toxigenic fungus Aspergillus flavus. Earlier studies have shown that whole maize kernels contaminated with aflatoxins exhibit different spectral signatures from uncontaminated kernels based on the external fluorescence emission of the whole kernels. Here, the effect of time on the internal fluorescence spectral emissions from cross-sections of kernels infected with toxigenic and atoxigenic A. flavus, were examined in order to elucidate the interaction between the fluorescence signals emitted by some aflatoxin contaminated maize kernels and the fungal invasion resulting in the production of aflatoxins. First, the difference in internal fluorescence emissions between cross-sections of kernels incubated in toxigenic and atoxigenic inoculum was assessed. Kernels were inoculated with each strain for 5, 7, and 9 days before cross-sectioning and imaging. There were 270 kernels (540 halves) imaged, including controls. Second, in a different set of kernels (15 kernels/group; 135 total), the germ of each kernel was separated from the endosperm to determine the major areas of aflatoxin accumulation and progression over nine growth days. Kernels were inoculated with toxigenic and atoxigenic fungal strains for 5, 7, and 9 days before the endosperm and germ were separated, followed by fluorescence hyperspectral imaging and chemical aflatoxin determination. A marked difference in fluorescence intensity was shown between the toxigenic and atoxigenic strains on day nine post-inoculation, which may be a useful indicator of the location of aflatoxin contamination. This finding suggests that both, the fluorescence peak shift and intensity as well as timing, may be essential in distinguishing toxigenic and atoxigenic fungi based on spectral features. Results also reveal a possible preferential difference in the internal colonization of maize kernels between the toxigenic and atoxigenic strains of A. flavus suggesting a potential window for differentiating the strains based on fluorescence spectra at specific time points.

Publisher URL: http://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2017.01718

DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.01718

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