Detection of aflatoxigenic molds in grains by PCR

Roni Shapira*, Nachman Paster, Osnat Eyal, Mazal Menasherov, Anait Mett, Raffael Salomon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

174 Scopus citations


Aflatoxins are carcinogenic metabolites produced by several members of the Aspergillus flavus group in grains and foods. Three genes, ver-1, omt-1, and apa-2, coding for key enzymes and a regulatory factor in aflatoxin biosynthesis, respectively, have been identified, and their DNA sequences have been published. In the present study, three primer pairs, each complementing the coding portion of one of the genes, were generated. DNA extracted from mycelia of five Aspergillus species, four Penicillium species, and two Fusarium species was used as PCR template for each of the primer pairs. DNA extracted from peanut, corn, and three insect species commonly found in stored grains was also tested. Positive results (DNA amplification) were achieved only with DNA of the aflatoxigenic molds Aspergillus parasiticus and A .flavus in all three primer pairs. The detection limit of the PCR was determined by using the primer pairs complementing the omt-1 and ver-1 genes. Sterile corn flour was inoculated separately with six different molds, each at several spore concentrations. Positive results were obtained only after a 24-h incubation in enriched media, with extracts of corn inoculated with A. parasiticus or A. flavus, even at the lowest spore concentration applied (102 spores per g). No DNA amplification was observed from corn inoculated with other molds, even at the highest inoculum level (106 spores per g). It is concluded that genes involved in the aflatoxin biosynthetic pathway may form the basis for an accurate, sensitive, and specific detection system, using PCR, for aflatoxigenic strains in grains and foods.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)3270-3273
Number of pages4
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1996


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