Afla-Guard® Also Protects Corn Crops
Posted: Tuesday, September 7, 2010 8:01 pm
By Sharon Durham
Recently retired Agricultural Research Service (ARS) microbiologist Joe Dorner at the National Peanut Research Laboratory in Dawson, Ga., helped develop Afla-Guard®, a biological control for the aflatoxin-producing fungi Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus in peanuts. ARS is USDA’s principal intramural scientific research agency.
A. flavus and A. parasiticus, naturally-occurring soil fungi, can invade food and feed crops, contaminating them with aflatoxin. Aflatoxin is a human carcinogen produced by the fungi and is also toxic to pets, livestock, and wildlife.
Afla-Guard® is composed of hulled barley coated with spores of a nontoxic strain of A. flavus. The nontoxic Aspergillus fungi successfully compete against the toxic species for the limited space and nutrients each needs to grow and thrive. In peanuts, Afla-Guard® reduced aflatoxins by an average of 85 percent in farmers’ stock peanuts and up to 97 percent in shelled, edible-grade peanuts.
In light of this success, Dorner and other ARS scientists conducted a two-year study of Afla-Guard® in corn. They again found that it was effective in reducing aflatoxin levels—showing an overall reduction of 85 percent, when compared to control fields.
Afla-Guard® was applied to the corn crop in different ways: to soil when corn was less than a meter tall, in plant whorls prior to tassel formation, and as multiple sprays during silking.
Read more about this and other corn-related research in the September 2010 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.
The research was published in the Journal of Food Protection.