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Mycologia. 2007 Mar-Apr;99(2):269-78.

Microbiological and molecular determination of mycobiota in fresh and ensiled maize silage.

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  • 1Department of Plant Pathology, 321 Buckhout Laboratory, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802, USA.


The mycobiota of fresh and ensiled maize was studied with culturing techniques and a DNA sequence-based approach. Freshly chopped and ensiled maize were collected for 2 y from 12 farms in Pennsylvania. Samples were plated on selective media and isolates identified by morphology and sequences of the internal transcribed spacer regions of rDNA, 800-900 bp of the 5' end of the translation elongation factor 1-alpha gene and a portion of the rodA gene (Aspergillus fumigatus only). ITS regions were amplified from total silage DNA, cloned, sequenced and compared to fungal ITS sequences in GenBank with the BLAST-N algorithm. For samples analyzed by both methods, the molecular technique detected a greater number of species than selective plating. Plating recovered several Penicillium and Fusarium species and Aspergillus fumigatus, while molecular analysis detected Alternaria, Penicillium and Fusarium species. Data from both methods found that Fusarium and Penicillium were the dominant mycotoxigenic fungi in silage, while yeast made up the majority all fungi recovered or detected. Known mycotoxigenic species often accounted for 50% or more of the total number of species isolated or detected at each site. Viable Fusaria were not isolated from or detected in ensiled maize, suggesting that Fusarium species do not survive the ensiling process. Results from this study suggest that given the numerous species of fungi present in silage with mycotoxin producing ability, there is a strong possibility that silage may be contaminated with multiple toxins simultaneously.

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