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J Food Prot. 2007 Jan;70(1):151-6.

Natural occurrence of Fusarium species, fumonisin production by toxigenic strains, and concentrations of fumonisins B1, and B2 in conventional and organic maize grown in Spain.

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Veterinary Faculty, University of Zaragoza, c/Miguel Server 177, 50013 Zaragoza, Spain.


Sixty samples of corn from both conventional and organic farms were tested for internal fungal contamination. Molds were identified to genus, and those belonging to the genus Fusarium were identified to species. Twenty isolates of Fusarium verticillioides were tested with a high-performance liquid chromatography-naphthalene dicarboxaldehyde-fluorescence method for their ability to produce fumonisins B1 and B2. The internal fungal infection in organic maize (63.20%) was significantly higher than that in conventional maize (40.27%) (P < 0.05). However, the distribution of fungal genera indicated a significantly higher prevalence of Fusarium in conventional (34.93%) than in organic (18.15%) maize, making Fusarium the predominant fungus in conventional maize. This difference in mold distribution between organic and conventional maize was attributed to the difference in cultivation system. The dominant Fusarium species in both conventional and organic samples was F. verticillioides. There were no significant differences in the ability of 20 selected isolates of F. verticillioides to produce fumonisins on conventional or organic corn. Up to 13.3% of the conventional corn samples contained fumonisins B1 and B2 at mean concentrations of 43 and 22 ng/g, respectively. Organic corn samples had somewhat lower levels of contamination: 35 ng/g fumonisin B1 and 19 ng/g fumonisin B2 (P > 0.05). The organic farming system, with well-balanced crop rotation, tillage, and compost fertilization, produced corn that was less likely to be contaminated with Fusarium species, although no significant difference in fumonisin concentrations was found between the two types of contaminated corn.

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