PCR detection of aflatoxin producing fungi and its limitations


Unlike bacterial toxins that are primarily peptides and are therefore encoded by a single gene, fungal toxins such as the aflatoxins are multi-ring structures and therefore require a sequence of structural genes for their biological synthesis. There is therefore no specific PCR for any one of the four biologically produced aflatoxins. Unfortunately, the structural genes presently in use for PCR detection of aflatoxin producing fungi are also involved in the synthesis of other fungal toxins such as sterigmatocystin by Aspergillus versicolor and Aspergillus nidulans and therefore lack absolute specificity for aflatoxin producing fungi (Table 1). In addition, the genomic presence of several structural genes involved in aflatoxin biosynthesis does not guarantee the production of aflatoxin by all isolates of Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. The most widely used DNA target regions for discriminating Aspergillus species are those of the rDNA complex, mainly the internal transcribed spacer regions 1 and 2 (ITS1 and ITS2) and the variable regions in the 5′-end of the 28S rRNA gene. Since these sequence regions are unrelated to the structural genes involved in aflatoxin biosynthesis there successful amplification can be used for species identification but do not confirm aflatoxin production. This review therefore presents the various approaches and limitations in the use of the PCR in attempting to detect aflatoxin producing fungi.

Robert E. Levin
International Journal of Food Microbiology
Volume 156, Issue 1, 1 May 2012, Pages 1–6
See on www.sciencedirect.com


Comments are closed.