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Microbiol Res. 2004;159(2):113-20.

Assessment of toxigenic fungi on Argentinean medicinal herbs.

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Instituto Nacional de Medicamentos (INAME), Administración Nacional de Medicamentos, Alimentos y Tecnología Médica, Ministerio de Salud de la Nación, Buenos Aires, Argentina.


This work was performed to determine the incidence of toxigenic fungi and their mycotoxins on 152 dried medicinal and aromatic herbs, belonging to 56 species, which are used as raw material for drugs. International methodologies for fungal enumeration and identification were applied as well as TLC and HPLC techniques for toxins detection. The 52% out of 152 samples were contaminated with species from Aspergillus genus, 27% belonging to the Flavi section and 25% to the Circumdati section. The 16% of the total samples was contaminated with species from Fusarium genus. Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus (Flavi section), were the predominant species isolated, 50% out of 40 isolates were toxigenic. Aflatoxin concentrations ranged from 10 to 2000 ng/g. Only 26% of isolates from the Circumdati section (A. alliaceus, A. ochraceus and A. sclerotiorum) produced ochratoxin A in low concentrations between 0.12 and 9 ng/g. From a total of 29 strains of Fusarium spp., 27.5% were Fusarium verticillioides and F. proliferatum, which produced fumonisin Bland fumonisin B2 ranged from 20 to 22000 microg/g and from 5 to 3000 microg/g respectively. The remaining species, F. equiseti, F. oxysporum, F. semitectum, F. compactum, F. sombucinum and F. solani were able to produce neither group A and B trichothecenes nor zearalenone. The incidence of A. ochraceus and Fusarium spp. and their toxigenic capacities on medicinal herbs were studied for the first time in Argentina. It would be important to look for natural contamination to define acceptability Limits which allow the control of sanitary quality of medicinal herbs used as phytotherapic medicines in several countries.

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