Occurrence of Aflatoxigenic Aspergillus Species in Various Varieties of Peanuts Produced in Western Kenya
Menza, Nelson C.
Muturi, Margaret W.
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Aflatoxin contaminates foods including peanuts. Aflatoxin is a carcinogenic toxin mainly produced bty Aspergillus flavus. Other Aspergillus species that rarely produce aflatoxins are A. nomius and A. niger. Aflatoxin is associated with liver failure, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and death. Recent studies have shown that peanuts in Kenya are highly contaminated with aflatoxins but information gaps exist on the characterization of the Aspergillus species that produce aflatoxins in peanuts in Kenya. Therefore, this gap necessitated the determination of the Aspergillus species producing aflatoxins in peanuts from the main growing districts of Busia and Kisii Central districts. One hundred and two (102) peanuts samples were collected from farmers’ in each district Aspergillus species were isolated from the peanut samples by using the dilution plate technique on modified Rose Bengal agar. Phenotypical characterization of the identified Aspergillus section flavus isolates from the peanuts samples was determined using the procedure of Mellon and Cotty. This study identified five (5) Aspergillus species as contaminants in peanuts analyzed in this study. They were Aspergillus flavus L-strain, Aspergillus flavus S-strain, Aspergillus parasiticus, Aspergillus niger and Aspergillus tamari. Overall, the occurrence of Aspergillus flavus L- strain and A. flavus S- strain were significantly higher than other species identified (H = 15.55, df = 4, P = 0.004) in peanuts from the two districts. However, A. flavus Sstrain was the most dominant species identified in the study with a mean occurrence of 45.1%. Aspergillus flavus L- strain was the most common isolate (58.8%) in peanuts from Busia district while A. flavus S- strain was the most common strain (60.2%) in peanuts from Kisii Central district. Overall, the occurrence of Aspergillus flavus L strain and A. flavus S strain were significantly higher than other species identified (H = 15.55, df = 4, P = 0.004) in peanuts from the two districts. However, A. flavus S-strain was the most dominant species (F=3.15, df =25, P=0.031) with an overall mean occurrence of 45.1%. The confirmation of occurrence of other species that produce toxins such as A. niger and A. tamarii which also produces cyclopiazonic acid suggests the need to screen peanuts for other carcinogenic mycotoxins