Aspergillus flavus biomass in maize estimated by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction is strongly correlated with aflatoxin concentration

Santiago X. Mideros, Gary L. Windham, W. Paul Williams, Rebecca J. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Aspergillus flavus causes ear rot of maize and produces anatoxins that can contaminate grain even in the absence of visible symptoms of infection. Resistance to anatoxin accumulation and pathogen colonization are considered distinct traits in maize. Colonization of grain by fungi such as A. flavus has been difficult to quantify. We developed and validated two quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assays to estimate fungal biomass in maize tissues. In order to study the relationship between fungal biomass and anatoxin accumulation, qPCR was conducted and anatoxin concentrations were assayed in milled samples of mature maize kernels for two diverse sets of maize germplasm. The first was a set of hybrids that was inoculated with A. flavus in a conducive field environment in Mississippi. These hybrids, mainly early tropical and non-stiff-stalk genotypes adapted to local conditions, carry known sources of resistance among their progenitors. The second set, also tested in Mississippi, was a group of inbred lines representing a wider sample of maize genetic diversity. For both sets, our results showed a high correlation between fungal load and anatoxin concentration in maize kernels. Our qPCR methodology could have a direct impact on breeding programs that aim to identify lines with resistance to anatoxin accumulation, and set the stage for future studies on the genetic dissection of aflatoxin-related traits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1163-1170
Number of pages8
JournalPlant disease
Volume93
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science

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