Title Mycobiota of ground red pepper and their aflatoxigenic potential
Author Hyeonheui Ham, Sosoo Kim, Min-Hee Kim, Soohyung Lee, Sung Kee Hong, Jae-Gee Ryu, and Theresa Lee*
Address Microbial Safety Team, National Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Rural Development Administration, Wanju 55365, Republic of Korea
Bibliography Journal of Microbiology, 54(12),832-837, 2016,
DOI 10.1007/s12275-016-6480-2
Key Words ground red pepper, fungi, Aspergillus, aflatoxin
Abstract To investigate contamination of ground red pepper with fungi and mycotoxin, we obtained 30 ground red pepper samples from 15 manufacturers in the main chili-pepper-producing areas in Korea. Fungal contamination was evaluated by spreading diluted samples on potato dextrose agar plates. The total fungi counts ranged from 0 to 7.3 × 103 CFU/g. In the samples, the genus Aspergillus had the highest incidence, while Paecilomyces was isolated most frequently. The next most frequent genera were Rhizopus, Penicillium, Cladosporium, and Alternaria. Within Aspergillus, A. ruber was predominant, followed by A. niger, A. amstelodami, A. ochraceus, A. terreus, A. versicolor, A. flavus, and A. fumigatus. The samples were analyzed for aflatoxins, ochratoxin A, and citrinin by ultraperfomance liquid chromatography (UPLC) with a fluorescence detector. Ochratoxin A was detected from three samples at 1.03‒2.08 μg/kg, whereas no aflatoxins or citrinin were detected. To test the potential of fungal isolates to produce aflatoxin, we performed a PCR assay that screened for the norB-cypA gene for 64 Aspergillus isolates. As a result, a single 800-bp band was amplified from 10 A. flavus isolates, and one Aspergillus sp. isolate. UPLC analyses confirmed aflatoxin production by nine A. flavus isolates and one Aspergillus sp. isolate, which produced total aflatoxins at 146.88‒909.53 μg/kg. This indicates that continuous monitoring of ground red pepper for toxigenic fungi is necessary to minimize mycotoxin contamination.