A survey on distribution of Aspergillus section Flavi in corn field soils in Iran: Population patterns based on aflatoxins, cyclopiazonic acid and sclerotia production
Soil isolates of Aspergillus section Flavi from Mazandaran and Semnan provinces with totally different climatic conditions in Iran were examined for aflatoxins (AFs; B and G types), cyclopiazonic acid (CPA) and sclerotia production. A total of 66 Aspergillus flavus group strains were identified from three species viz. Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus parasiticus and Aspergillus nomius in both locations. A. flavus (87.9%) was found to be the prominent species followed by A. nomius (9.1%) and A. parasiticus (3.0%). Only 27.5% of A. flavus isolates were aflatoxigenic (B(1) or B(1) and B(2)), out of which approximately 75% were capable to producing CPA. All the A. parasiticus and A. nomius isolates produced AFs of both B (B(1) and B(2)) and G (G(1) and G(2)) types, but did not produce CPA. Sclerotia production was observed in only 4 isolates of A. flavus among all 66 isolates from three identified species. A. flavus isolates were classified into various chemotypes based on the ability to produce aflatoxins and CPA. In this study, a new naturally occurring toxigenic A. flavus chemotype comprising of two strains capable of producing more AFB(2) than AFB(1) has been identified. A relatively larger proportion of aflatoxigenic A. flavus strains were isolated from corn field soils of Mazandaran province which indicate a possible relationship between high levels of relative humidity and the incidence of aflatoxin-producing fungi. The importance of incidence of Aspergillus section Flavi in corn field soils regard to their mycotoxin production profiles and crop contamination with special reference to climatic conditions is discussed.