Biocontrol of the mycotoxin aflatoxin utilizes non-aflatoxigenic strains of Aspergillus flavus, which have variable success rates as biocontrol agents.

One non-aflatoxigenic strain, NRRL 35739, is a notably poor biocontrol agent. Its growth in artificial cultures and on peanut kernels was found to be slower than that of two aflatoxigenic strains, and NRRL 35739 exhibited less sporulation when grown on peanuts. The non-aflatoxigenic strain did not greatly prevent aflatoxin accumulation. Comparison of the transcriptomes of aflatoxigenic and non-aflatoxigenic A. flavus strains AF36, AF70, NRRL 3357, NRRL 35739, and WRRL 1519 indicated that strain NRRL 35739 had increased relative expression of six heat shock and stress response proteins, with the genes having relative read counts in NRRL 35739 that were 25 to 410 times more than in the other four strains. These preliminary findings tracked with current thought that aflatoxin biocontrol efficacy is related to the ability of a non-aflatoxigenic strain to out-compete aflatoxigenic ones. The slower growth of NRRL 35739 might be due to lower stress tolerance or overexpression of stress response(s). Further study of NRRL 35739 is needed to refine our understanding of the genetic basis of competitiveness among A. flavus strains.



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