This study adopts the pyrosequencing technique to identify bacteria present on 26 kitchen cutting boards collected from different grades of food premises around Seri Kembangan, a city in Malaysia. Pyrosequencing generated 452,401 of total reads of OTUs with an average of 1.4×10(7) bacterial cells/cm(2). Proteobacteria, Firmicutes and Bacteroides were identified as the most abundant phyla in the samples. Taxonomic richness was generally high with >1000 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) observed across all samples. The highest appearance frequencies (100%) were OTUs closely related to Enterobacter sp., Enterobacter aerogenes, Pseudomonas sp. and Pseudomonas putida. Several OTUs were identified most closely related to known food-borne pathogens, including Bacillus cereus, Cronobacter sakazaki, Cronobacter turisensis, Escherichia coli, E. coli O157:H7, Hafnia alvei, Kurthia gibsonii, Salmonella bongori, Salmonella enterica, Salmonella paratyphi, Salmonella tyhpi, Salmonella typhimurium and Yersinia enterocolitica ranging from 0.005% to 0.68% relative abundance. The condition and grade of the food premises on a three point cleanliness scale did not correlate with the bacterial abundance and type. Regardless of the status and grades, all food premises have the same likelihood to introduce food-borne bacteria from cutting boards to their foods and must always prioritize the correct food handling procedure in order to avoid unwanted outbreak of food-borne illnesses.
Since multidrug resistant bacteria are frequently reported from Southeast Asia, our study focused on the occurrence of ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae in fresh imported herbs from Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia. Samples were collected from fresh culinary herbs imported from Southeast Asia in which ESBL-suspected isolates were obtained by selective culturing. Analysis included identification by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry, susceptibility testing, XbaI-PFGE, microarray, PCR and sequencing of specific ESBL genes, PCR based replicon typing (PBRT) of plasmids and Southern blot hybridization. In addition, the quinolone resistance genotype was characterized by screening for plasmid mediated quinolone resistance (PMQR) genes and mutations in the quinolone resistance determining region (QRDR) of gyrA and parC. The study encompassed fifty samples of ten batches of culinary herbs (5 samples per batch) comprising nine different herb variants. The herbs originated from Thailand (Water morning glory, Acacia and Betel leaf), Vietnam (Parsley, Asian pennywort, Houttuynia leaf and Mint) and Malaysia (Holy basil and Parsley). By selective culturing 21 cefotaxime resistant Enterobacteriaceae were retrieved. Array analysis revealed 18 isolates with ESBL genes and one isolate with solely non-ESBL beta-lactamase genes. Mutations in the ampC promoter region were determined in two isolates with PCR and sequencing. The isolates were identified as Klebsiella pneumoniae (n=9), Escherichia coli (n=6), Enterobacter cloacae complex (n=5) and Enterobacter spp. (n=1). All isolates tested were multidrug resistant. Variants of CTX-M enzymes were predominantly found followed by SHV enzymes. PMQR genes (including aac(6')-1b-cr, qnrB and qnrS) were also frequently detected. In almost all cases ESBL and quinolone resistance genes were located on the same plasmid. Imported fresh culinary herbs from Southeast Asia are a potential source for contamination of food with multidrug resistant bacteria. Because these herbs are consumed without appropriate heating, transfer to human bacteria cannot be excluded.
In this study, a Salmonella Typhimurium lytic bacteriophage, Φ st1, which was isolated from chicken faecal material, was evaluated as a candidate for biocontrol of Salmonella in chickens. The morphology of Φ st1 showed strong resemblance to members of the Siphoviridae family. Φ st1 was observed to be a DNA phage with an estimated genome size of 121 kbp. It was found to be able to infect S. Typhimurium and S. Hadar, with a stronger lytic activity against the former. Subsequent characterisation of Φ st1 against S. Typhimurium showed that Φ st1 has a latent period of 40 min with an average burst size of 22 particles per infective centre. Approximately 86.1% of the phage adsorbed to the host cells within the initial 5 min of infection. At the optimum multiplicity of infection (MOI) (0.1), the highest reduction rate of S. Typhimurium (6.6 log₁₀ CFU/ml) and increment in phage titre (3.8 log₁₀ PFU/ml) was observed. Φ st1 produced adsorption rates of 88.4-92.2% at pH7-9 and demonstrated the highest bacteria reduction (6.6 log₁₀ CFU/ml) at pH9. Φ st1 also showed an insignificant different (P>0.05) reduction rate of host cells at 37 °C (6.4 log₁₀ CFU/ml) and 42 °C (6.0 log₁₀ CFU/ml). The in vivo study using Φ st1 showed that intracloacal inoculation of ~10¹² PFU/ml of the phage in the chickens challenged with ~10¹⁰ CFU/ml of S. Typhimurium was able to reduce (P<0.05) the S. Typhimurium more rapidly than the untreated group. The Salmonella count reduced to 2.9 log₁₀ CFU/ml within 6h of post-challenge and S. Typhimurium was not detected at and after 24h of post-challenge. Reduction of Salmonella count in visceral organs was also observed at 6h post-challenge. Approximately 1.6 log₁₀ FU/ml Φ st1 was found to persist in the caecal wall of the chicks at 72 h of post-challenge. The present study indicated that Φ st1 may serve as a potential biocontrol agent to reduce the Salmonella count in caecal content of chickens.
We report for the first time on the prevalence, antibiotic resistance and RAPD types of Campylobacter species in ducks and duck related environmental samples in Malaysia. Samples were examined by enrichment in Bolton Broth followed by plating onto modified Charcoal Cefoperazone Deoxycholate agar (mCCDA) and/or plating directly onto mCCDA. A total of 643 samples were screened, and the prevalence of Campylobacter spp. in samples from different sources ranged from 0% to 85%. The method of isolation had a significant (P<0.05) effect on the isolation rate. One hundred and sixteen Campylobacter isolates, comprising of 94 Campylobacter jejuni, 19 Campylobacter coli and three Campylobacter lari, were examined for their sensitivity to 13 antibiotics. Majority of the C. jejuni isolates were resistant to cephalothin (99%), tetracycline (96%), suphamethoxazole/trimethoprim (96%), and very few were resistant to gentamicin (5%), chloramphenicol (7%) and erythromycin (1%). All C. coli isolates were resistant to cephalothin, nalidixic acid, norfloxacin and tetracycline but susceptible to chloramphenicol, erythromycin and gentamicin. The three C. lari isolates were resistant to all the antibiotics tested except chloramphenicol and gentamicin (1/3 and 2/3 susceptible, respectively). Genetic diversity of Campylobacter isolates were determined using random amplification of polymorphic DNA (RAPD). C. jejuni and C. coli isolates belong to fifty-eight and twelve RAPD types, respectively.
Bacteria with amine oxidase activity have become a particular interest to reduce biogenic amines concentration in food products such as meat and fish sausages. However, little information is available regarding the application of these bacteria in fish sauce. Hence, our study was aimed to investigate the effect of such starter cultures in reducing biogenic amines accumulation during fish sauce fermentation. Staphylococcus carnosus FS19 and Bacillus amyloliquefaciens FS05 isolated from fish sauce which possess amine oxidase activity were used as starter cultures in this study. Fermentation was held for 120 days at 35 °C. The pH value increased in all samples, while salt concentration remained constant throughout fermentation. Aerobic bacteria count was significantly lower (p < 0.05) in the control than in inoculated samples as a result of starter cultures addition. However, it decreased during fermentation due to the growth inhibition by high salt concentration. Proteolytic bacterial count decreased during fermentation with no significant difference (p > 0.05) among samples. These bacteria hydrolyzed protein in anchovy to produce free amino acid precursors for amines formation by decarboxylase bacteria. The presence of biogenic amines producing bacteria in this study was considered to be indigenous from raw material or contamination during fermentation, since our cultures were negative histamine producers. Amino acid histidine, arginine, lysine and tyrosine concentration decreased at different rates during fermentation as they were converted into their respective amines. In general, biogenic amines concentration namely histamine, putrescine, cadaverine and tyramine increased throughout fermentation. However, their concentrations were markedly higher (p < 0.05) in the control (without starter cultures) as compared to the samples treated with starter cultures. Histamine concentration was reduced by 27.7% and 15.4% by Staphylococcus carnosus FS19 and Bacillus amyloliquefaciens FS05, respectively. Both cultures could also reduce other amines during fermentation. After 120 days of fermentation, the overall biogenic amines concentration was 15.9% and 12.5% less in samples inoculated with Staphylococcus carnosus FS19 and Bacillus amyloliquefaciens FS05, respectively, as compared to control samples. These findings emphasized that application of starter cultures with amines oxidase activity in fish sauce fermentation was found to be effective in reducing biogenic amines accumulation.
A total of 225 samples from poultry farms and the surrounding environment were screened for vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) and bifunctional aminoglycoside-resistant enterococci using conventional microbiological tests and a nanoplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay. Three (1.3%) of the samples were found to contain vancomycin-resistant isolates (MIC>256 microg/mL) that had a vanA genotype. The three vanA positive VRE isolates were identified as different species. Only one isolate (Enterococcus faecium F 4/13_54) was sensitive to teicoplanin (MIC<0. 12-0.35 microg/mL); the other two VRE (E. faecalis A 21_35 and E. gallinarum F 5/10_1) were resistant to teicoplanin (MIC 3.6-->16 microg/mL). The vanC genotype was observed in nine (4%) of the samples collected. High-level gentamicin-resistant (HLGR) enterococci (with MIC ranging between 100 and 500 microg/mL) were detected in 44 samples. However, only 40 of these were found to possess the aac(6')-aph(2'') gene. The overall prevalence of VRE among the samples from the poultry farms and environment was 5.3%, but the prevalence of the clinically significant vanA VRE was 1.3%, and the prevalence of bifunctional aminoglycoside-resistant enterococci was slightly higher, at 19.5%.
The main aim of this study was to combine the techniques of most probable number (MPN) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for quantifying the prevalence and numbers of Campylobacter spp. in ulam, a popular Malaysian salad dish, from a traditional wet market and two modern supermarkets in Selangor, Malaysia. A total of 309 samples of raw vegetables which are used in ulam were examined in the study. The prevalences of campylobacters in raw vegetables were, for supermarket I, Campylobacter spp., 51.9%; Campylobacter jejuni, 40.7%; and Campylobacter coli, 35.2%: for supermarket II, Campylobacter spp., 67.7%; C. jejuni, 67.7%; and C. coli, 65.7%: and for the wet market, Campylobacter spp., 29.4%; C. jejuni, 25.5%; and C. coli, 22.6%. In addition Campylobacter fetus was detected in 1.9% of raw vegetables from supermarket I. The maximum numbers of Campylobacter spp. in raw vegetables from supermarkets and the wet market were >2400 and 460 MPN/g, respectively.
This study was undertaken to optimize yeast extract, glucose, and vitamin concentrations; and also culture pH for maximizing the growth of a probiotic bacterium, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and to assess the effects of these factors by using response surface methodology. A central composite design was used as an experimental design for the allocation of treatment combinations. A polynomial regression model with cubic and quartic terms was used for analysis of the experimental data. It was found that the effects involving yeast extract, glucose, vitamins and pH on the growth of L. rhamnosus were significant, and the strongest effect was given by the yeast extract concentration. Estimated optimum conditions of the factors for the growth of L. rhamnosus are as follows: pH=6.9; vitamin solution=1.28% (v/v); glucose=5.01% (w/v) and yeast extract=6.0% (w/v).
Little work has been reported on the use of commercial antimicrobials against foodborne pathogens on duck meat. We investigated the effectiveness of trisodium phosphate (TSP) and sodium hypochlorite (SH) as antimicrobial treatments against Campylobacter and Salmonella on duck meat under simulated commercial water chilling conditions. The results were compared to the same treatments on well-studied chicken meat. A six strain Campylobacter or Salmonella cocktail was inoculated (5 ml) at two dilution levels (10(4) and 10(8) cfu/ml) onto 25 g duck or chicken meat with skin and allowed to attach for 10 min. The meat was exposed to three concentrations of pH adjusted TSP (8, 10 and 12% (w/v), pH 11.5) or SH (40, 50 and 60 ppm, pH 5.5) in 30 ml water under simulated spin chiller conditions (4 °C, agitation) for 10 min. In a parallel experiment the meat was placed in the antimicrobial treatments before inoculation and bacterial cocktails were added to the meat after the antimicrobial solution was removed while all other parameters were maintained. Untreated controls and controls using water were included in all experiments. Bacterial numbers were determined on Campylobacter blood-free selective agar and Mueller Hinton agar or xylose deoxycholate agar and tryptone soya agar using the thin agar layer method for Campylobacter and Salmonella, respectively. All TSP concentrations significantly (p<0.05) reduced numbers of Campylobacter (~1.2-6.4 log cfu/cm(2)) and Salmonella (~0.4-6.6 log cfu/cm(2)) on both duck and chicken meat. On duck meat, numbers of Campylobacter were less than the limit of detection at higher concentrations of TSP and numbers of Salmonella were less than the limit of detection at all concentrations of TSP except one. On chicken meat, numbers of Campylobacter and Salmonella were less than the limit of detection only at the lower inoculum level and higher TSP concentrations. By contrast only some of the concentrations of SH significantly (p<0.05) reduced numbers of Campylobacter and Salmonella (~0.2-1.5 log cfu/cm(2)) on both duck and chicken meats. None of the SH treatments resulted in numbers of either pathogen being less than limit of detection. Results indicate that chicken meat has the ability to effectively protect Campylobacter and Salmonella against the impact of trisodium phosphate and sodium hypochlorite while duck meat does not. This study suggests that trisodium phosphate has a strong potential for application in a commercial poultry processing to reduce Campylobacter and Salmonella specifically on duck meat.
A total of 87 market fish samples representing five types of fish were evaluated for the presence of Aeromonas spp. Of the samples examined, 69%, 55%, 11.5% and 2.3% harbored Aeromonas spp., A. veronii biovar sobria, A. hydrophila and A. caviae, respectively. The 60 isolated Aeromonas spp. strains were further examined for hemolytic activity, resistance to antimicrobial agents and presence of plasmids. Hemolytic activity varied widely among the isolated strains. Though all the isolates demonstrated resistance to three or more of the antibiotics tested, all were susceptible to ceptazidime. Thirty-four (56.7%) of the sixty isolates harbored plasmids, with sizes ranging from 2.3 to 15.7 kb. These results indicate that hemolytic, multiple antibiotic resistant and genetically diverse aeromonads are easily recovered from fish in this region.
Tempoyak is a traditional Malaysian fermented condiment made from the pulp of the durian fruit (Durio zibethinus). Salt is sometime added to proceed fermentation at ambient temperature. In various samples obtained from night markets, lactic acid bacteria (LAB) were the predominant microorganisms, ranging from log 8.4 to log 9.2 cfu g(-1). No other microorganisms were present to such a level. These samples contained reduced amount of saccharose, glucose and fructose but increased amount of D- and L-lactic acid and acetic acid compared with samples of non-fermented durian fruit. Sixty-four isolates of LAB were divided into five groups by use of a few phenotypic tests. A total of 38 strains of LAB were selected for comparison by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) of their whole cell protein patterns with a SDS-PAGE database of LAB. These strains were also examined for their carbohydrate fermentation patterns by use of API 50 CH. Isolates belonging to the Lactobacillus plantarum group were shown to be the predominant members of the LAB flora. In addition, isolates belonging to the Lactobacillus brevis group, Leuconostoc mesenteroides, Lactobacillus mali, Lactobacilus fermentum and an unidentified Lactobacillus sp. were also observed. A high degree of diversity among isolates belonging to the Lb. plantarum group was demonstrated by analysis of their plasmid profiles.
The effect of heat-treatment on the internal temperature of raw cockles (Anadara granosa) and survival of their intrinsic flora of Vibrio spp. as well as of inoculated V. cholerae 0139 was examined. The cockles were purchased from markets in Malaysia and had an average weight including shells of 8.90+/-2.45 g. In one experiment heatpenetration of individual cockles was examined. Cockles weighing < 8 g (including shell) exhibited maximum internal temperatures of between 50 and 75 degrees C when heated in water at 99 degrees C for 10 s and 71-93 degrees C when heated for 30 s. Cockles weighing > 12 g exhibited maximum internal temperatures between 42 and 58 degrees C when heated in water at 99 degrees C for 10 s and 56-69 degrees C when heated for 30 s. In another experiment, heat-treatment of 10 cockles treated as a group at 99 degrees C for 10 or 30 s resulted in reduction of levels of intrinsic Vibrio spp. (enumerated directly on thiosulphate-citrate-bile salt sucrose agar; TCBS) from 5.73 to 3.15 log cfu g(-1) or below 1 log cfu g(-1), respectively. The levels of Vibrio spp. after heat-treatment decreased with an increase in numbers of cockles grouped together during treatment. In a third experiment V. cholerae 0139 was inoculated into cockles and subjected to heat-treatment at 99 degrees C for 0, 10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 s. The levels of Vibrio spp. in uninoculated, non-heat-treated cockles was 4.89 log cfu g(-1) on TCBS, and the predominant species were V. parahaemolyticus and V. alginolyticus. V. cholerae 0139 inoculated into cockles with an average weight of 13.5+/-1.90 g (including shell) decreased for samples examined immediately after heat-treatment from 6 log cfu g(-1) initially to 3.5 log cfu g(-1) after 25 s and < 1 log cfu g(-1) (TCBS) after 30 s of heat-treatment. The most probable number method by enrichment in alkaline peptone water gave in general within 1 log unit higher counts than TCBS direct enumeration. TCBS direct enumeration and MPN counts were up to 2.38 or 1.30 log units higher, respectively, for samples heat-treated for 20 s or longer and stored for 6 h at 30 degrees C before examination, than for samples heat-treated for same periods of time and examined immediately. This study shows that a mild heat-treatment of cockles for up to 25 s is inadequate to ensure a large reduction in numbers of Vibrio spp., including V. cholerae 0139.
A study was conducted to estimate the prevalence of Salmonella among broilers retailed at wet-markets and processing plants. Litter and feed samples obtained from both broiler and breeder farms were also examined for Salmonella. A total of 158 out of 445 (35.5%) and 52 out of 104 (50.0%) broiler carcasses obtained from wet-markets and processing plants were contaminated with Salmonella, respectively. Salmonella was isolated from 14 out of 98 (14.3%) samples of intestinal content. Litter samples from broiler and breeder farms were positive for Salmonella, 8/40 (20%) and 2/10 (20%), respectively. Salmonella isolates (230) belonging to 15 different serovars were isolated. Predominant serovars were S. enteritidis, S. muenchen, S. kentucky and S. blockley.
Enterotoxigenic Bacillus cereus was detected in cooked foods (17), rice noodles (3), wet wheat noodles (2), dry wheat noodles (10), spices (8), grains (4), legumes (11) and legume products (3). One hundred ninety-four (42.3%), 70 (15.3%) and 23 (5.2%) of the 459 presumptive B. cereus colonies isolated from PEMBA agar were identified as B. cereus, Bacillus thuringiensis and B. mycoides, respectively. B. cereus isolates were examined for growth temperature, pH profile and enterotoxin production using both TECRA-VIA and BCET-RPLA kits. One hundred seventy-eight (91.8%) and 164 (84%) of the strains were enterotoxigenic as determined using TECRA-VIA and BCET-RPLA, respectively. Eighty-two (50%) of the enterotoxigenic strains were capable of growing at 5 degrees C, and 142 (86.6%) grew at 7 degrees C within 7 days of incubation. The enterotoxigenic strains did not grow at pH 4.0 but 69 (42.0%) of the strains were able to grow at pH 4.5 within 7 days at 37 degrees C. The isolates were resistant to ampicillin (98.8%), cloxallin (100%) and tetracycline (61.0%), and susceptible to chloroamphenicol (87%), erythromycin (77.4%), gentamycin (100%) and streptomycin (98.7%).
A total of 234 samples of food, consisting of 158 of raw and 76 samples of ready-to-eat food were examined for the presence of Listeria monocytogenes. The frequencies of L. monocytogenes contamination in raw foods were: chicken portions (60%), liver (60%) and gizzard (62%), beef (50%), beansprout (85%), prawns (44%), kupang (dried oysters) (33%), bean cake (25%), satay (48%) and leafy vegetables (22%). Of the ready-to-eat foods: satay (26%), prawns, squids, clams and chicken dishes (22%), cucumber (80%) and peanut sauce (20%) were found to yield L. monocytogenes.
Aspergillus flavus is the predominant species that produce aflatoxins in stored peanuts under favourable conditions. This study aimed to describe the growth and aflatoxin production by two A. flavus strains isolated from imported raw peanuts and to model the effects of temperature and aw on their colony growth rate as a function of temperature and aw in Peanut Meal Extract Agar (PMEA). A full factorial design with seven aw levels (0.85-0.98 aw) and five temperature levels (20-40 °C) was used to investigate the growth and aflatoxin production. Colony diameter was measured daily for 28 days while AFB1 and total aflatoxin were determined on day 3, 7, 14, and 21. The maximum colony growth rate, μmax (mm/day) was estimated by using the primary model of Baranyi, and the μmax was then fitted to the secondary model; second-order polynomial and linear Arrhenius-Davey to describe the colony growth rate as a function of temperature and aw. The results indicated that both strains failed to grow at temperature of 20 °C with aw <0.94 and aw of 0.85 for all temperatures except 30 °C. The highest growth rate was observed at 30 °C, with 0.98 aw for both strains. The analysis of variance showed a significant effect of strain, temperature, and aw on the fungal growth and aflatoxin production (p
The present work aimed to determine the prevalence of aflatoxigenic Aspergillus section Flavi on different types of dairy goat's feed samples obtained from four dairy goat's farms around the central region of Peninsular Malaysia, and to examine the effects of climatic conditions (temperature, relative humidity) of the dairy goat's farms, and their feeding and storage practices on the fungal prevalence of different types of dairy goat's feed. A total of 60 goat's feed samples were obtained, and their proximate composition and water activity were determined, following which they were cultivated on DRBC and AFPA for total fungal load and Aspergillus section Flavi load determination, respectively. Fungal isolates were identified morphologically, and toxigenicity potentials of Aspergillus section Flavi isolates were determined using CCA. The temperature and relative humidity data of all farms were obtained from the Malaysian Meteorological Department. The total fungal loads (on DRBC) of the goat's feed samples were log 0.767 to 7.071 CFU/g which included the common feed contaminants such as Aspergillus, Fusarium, and Penicillium. The Aspergillus section Flavi loads (on AFPA) were log 0.667 to 3.206 CFU/g. Farm A yielded the highest number of Aspergillus section Flavi isolates as well as the highest number of aflatoxigenic isolates. It was found that climatic conditions and different practices between farms positively influenced the fungal prevalence on goat's feed samples based on the Pearson correlation analysis. The prevalence of mycotoxigenic isolates on goat's feed warrants for urgent intervention to ensure that goats are being fed with nutritionally adequate and safe feed. The presence of aflatoxigenic Aspergillus section Flavi isolates indicates the risk of aflatoxin B1 contamination on the goat's feed, aflatoxicosis development in the goats, and aflatoxin M1 bio-transformation in the goat's milk. This is a potential threat to the flourishing goat's milk industry in Malaysia.
This study was carried out to examine the efficacy of two biocontrol agents (Clonostachys rosea 016, BCA1; Gram-negative bacterium, BCA5) for control of FUM1 gene expression and fumonisin B1 (FB1) production by F. verticillioides FV1 on maize cobs of different ripening stages: R3, Milk (0.985 aw); R4, Dough (0.976 aw); R5, Dent (0.958 aw). Initially, temporal studies on FUM1 gene expression and FB1 production were performed on maize kernels for up to 14days. This revealed that day 10 was optimum for both parameters, and was used in the biocontrol studies. Maize cobs were inoculated with 50:50 mixtures of the pathogen:antagonist inoculum and incubated in environmental chambers to maintain the natural aw conditions for ten days at 25 and 30°C. The growth rates of F. verticillioides FV1, the relative expression of the FUM1 gene and FB1 production were quantified. It was found that, aw×temp had significant impacts on growth, FUM1 gene expression and FB1 production by F. verticillioides FV1 on maize cobs of different maturities. The fungal antagonist (BCA1) significantly reduced FB1 contamination on maize cobs by >70% at 25°C, and almost 60% at 30°C regardless of maize ripening stage. For the bacterial antagonist (BCA5) however, FB1 levels on maize cobs were significantly decreased only in some treatments. These results suggest that efficacy of antagonists to control mycotoxin production in ripening maize cobs needs to take account of the ecophysiology of the pathogen and the antagonists, as well as the physiological status of the maize during silking to ensure effective control.
In studying the ecophysiology of fungal phytopathogens, several stages are involved (in vitro, greenhouse, in planta). Most in vitro studies extensively utilise the general growth media such as Potato Dextrose Agar and Malt Extract Agar. Although the crop components in these media serve as excellent carbon sources and yield luxuriant growth, they are not naturally contaminated with Aspergillus flavus and thus might result in under- or overestimation of its actual toxigenic potentials. Empirical data on the formulation of semi-synthetic growth medium mimicking the natural crop commonly contaminated by A. flavus for the ecophysiological studies in vitro are scarce. The present work was aimed at investigating the ecophysiology of A. flavus on commercial growth media (PDA, MEA); formulating maize- and peanut-based semi-synthetic growth media using two methods of raw material preparation (milling, hot water extraction) at different concentrations (1, 3, 5, 7, 9% w/v), and comparing the ecophysiological parameters between commercial and formulated growth media. Growth rates were obtained by computing the hyphal expansion data into y = mx + c equation. AFB1 was quantified using high performance liquid chromatography with fluorescence detector. Formulated media were found to yield significantly higher growth rates when compared to commercial media. However, commercial media yielded significantly higher AFB1 when compared to all formulated media. Between the two formulations, milling yielded significantly higher growth rates and AFB1 when compared to hot water extraction. Although in vitro data cannot directly extrapolate in planta performance, results obtained in the present work can be used to gauge the actual toxigenic potential of A. flavus in maize and peanut agro-ecosystems.
Peanuts are widely consumed as the main ingredient in many local dishes in Malaysia. However, the tropical climate in Malaysia (high temperature and humidity) favours the growth of fungi from Aspergillus section Flavi, especially during storage. Most of the species from this section, such as A. flavus, A. parasiticus and A. nomius, are natural producers of aflatoxins. Precise identification of local isolates and information regarding their ability to produce aflatoxins are very important to evaluate the safety of food marketed in Malaysia. Therefore, this study aimed to identify and characterize the aflatoxigenic and non-aflatoxigenic strains of Aspergillus section Flavi in peanuts and peanut-based products. A polyphasic approach, consisting of morphological and chemical characterizations was applied to 128 isolates originating from raw peanuts and peanut-based products. On the basis of morphological characters, 127 positively identified as Aspergillus flavus, and the other as A. nomius. Chemical characterization revealed six chemotype profiles which indicates diversity of toxigenic potential. About 58.6%, 68.5%, and 100% of the isolates are positive for aflatoxins, cyclopiazonic acid and aspergillic acid productions respectively. The majority of the isolates originating from raw peanut samples (64.8%) were aflatoxigenic, while those from peanut-based products were less toxigenic (39.1%). The precise identification of these species may help in developing control strategies for aflatoxigenic fungi and aflatoxin contamination in peanuts, especially during storage. These findings also highlight the possibility of the co-occurrence of other toxins, which could increase the potential toxic effects of peanuts.