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Environmental distribution and genetic diversity of vegetative compatibility groups determine biocontrol strategies to mitigate aflatoxin contamination of maize by Aspergillus flavus
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Maize infected by aflatoxin-producing Aspergillus flavus may become contaminated with aflatoxins, and as a result, threaten human health, food security and farmers’ income in developing countries where maize is a staple. Environmental distribution and genetic diversity of A. flavus can influence the effectiveness of atoxigenic isolates in mitigating aflatoxin contamination. However, such information has not been used to facilitate selection and deployment of atoxigenic isolates. A total of 35 isolates of A. flavus isolated from maize samples collected from three agroecological zones of Nigeria were used in this study. Ecophysiological characteristics, distribution and genetic diversity of the isolates were determined to identify vegetative compatibility groups (VCGs). The generated data were used to inform selection and deployment of native atoxigenic isolates to mitigate aflatoxin contamination in maize. In co-inoculation with toxigenic isolates, atoxigenic isolates reduced aflatoxin contamination in grain by > 96%. A total of 25 VCGs were inferred from the collected isolates based on complementation tests involving nitrate non-utilizing (nit−) mutants. To determine genetic diversity and distribution of VCGs across agroecological zones, 832 nit− mutants from 52 locations in 11 administrative districts were paired with one self-complementary nitrate auxotroph tester-pair for each VCG. Atoxigenic VCGs accounted for 81.1% of the 153 positive complementations recorded. Genetic diversity of VCGs was highest in the derived savannah agro-ecological zone (H = 2.61) compared with the southern Guinea savannah (H = 1.90) and northern Guinea savannah (H = 0.94) zones. Genetic richness (H = 2.60) and evenness (E5 = 0.96) of VCGs were high across all agro-ecological zones. Ten VCGs (40%) had members restricted to the original location of isolation, whereas 15 VCGs (60%) had members located between the original source of isolation and a distance > 400 km away. The present study identified widely distributed VCGs in Nigeria such as AV0222, AV3279, AV3304 and AV16127, whose atoxigenic members can be deployed for a region-wide biocontrol of toxigenic isolates to reduce aflatoxin contamination in maize.
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Permanent link to this itemhttps://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12478/1153
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