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Mycologia. 2002 Sep-Oct;94(5):741-51.

Effect of competition and adverse culture conditions on aflatoxin production by Aspergillus flavus through successive generations.

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National Peanut Research Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Dawson, Georgia 31742.


Strains of Aspergillus flavus often degenerate with serial transfers on culture media, resulting in morphological changes and loss of aflatoxin production. However, degeneration does not readily occur in nature as indicated by the wild-type morphological characters of newly isolated strains and the high percentage of aflatoxigenic A. flavus from soil and crops in some geographic regions. In this study, three aflatoxin-producing strains of A. flavus were serially transferred using conidia for 20 generations (three independent generation lines per strain) on potato dextrose agar at 30 C. The rate of degeneration was compared to that of cultures grown in the presence of competing fungi (A. terreus, Penicillium funiculosum, and the yeast, Pichia guilliermondii) and under adverse conditions of elevated temperature, reduced water activity, low pH, and nutrient deprivation. Formation of morphological variants and the associated loss of aflatoxin production over generations varied considerably according to strain and the generation line within each strain. In the strain most sensitive to degeneration on potato dextrose agar, aflatoxin-producing ability was maintained to varying degrees under adverse culture conditions, but not when A. flavus was competing with other fungi.


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