It is a problem when fungus damage crops. Safe fungi will normally fight the toxic fungal infestation.
Several crops, as well as corn, are normally affected by fungus Aspergillus Flavia. There are varieties of this Aspergillus Flavus that produce aflatoxins. The aflatoxins usually pollute farm produce worth billions of dollars yearly. These aflatoxins are very dangerous to animals and humans.
Farmers employ safe commercial strains of Aspergillus flavus to reduce the number of aflatoxins that are contaminating crops. The strains do not allow aflatoxins to be produced. If it is applied to crops, it would quickly counter the harmful aflatoxins producing fungi.
Using these commercial strains may not be a permanent solution to the problem. Studies conducted recently shoes that using strain Aspergillus flavus is more effective than using commercial strains.
According to Ignazio Carbone, the lead author of the study and a researcher at North Carolina State University, using Aspergillus Flavus has many benefits.
The use of commercial strains has many disadvantages. It is not only expensive but also needs to be reapplied every year. The application is done manually, according to Carbone, this will discourage many farmers from using commercial strains.
Native strains, however, are usually grown naturally and are deeply rooted in the soil which will mean they don’t need to be reapplied every year like the commercial strains.
The Aspergillus Flavus was tested by Carbone and some other colleagues. It showed low levels of aflatoxin. The group also tested commercial strains and it was concluded that both strains reduce aflatoxins.
The corn that is consumed by man usually has high aflatoxin levels that are up to 20 parts per billion. Crops that are untreated usually have high aflatoxin levels of over 35 parts per billion. Both the native and commercial strains are able to reduce the level up to 10 parts per billion.
The study conducted also proves that certain variations of native strains are more effective than using commercial strains to reduce aflatoxins. This analysis is as a result of the fact that the combined variation of native strains takes advantage of the fungal biology. They are able to reproduce and sustain their population because their mating types are compatible
After the researchers were able to apply the compatible mating types of native strains, it was observed that the aflatoxins reduced in two parts per billion. This result was more effective than the commercial strains.
Carbone announced that the results show that the use of native strains will be more sustainable for reducing aflatoxin levels. He also went further to explain how cost effective it would be for farmers.
The study though conducted in North Carolina, Carbone hopes that this approach will be effective in other places. An experiment was conducted in Texas which showed that paired native strains were able to reduce aflatoxins.
According to Carbone, this approach will need to be tested in different States. He also explained that the aflatoxins levels will need to be monitored every season for its level of growth. There will need to conduct future field trials which will involve testing the present commercial strains along with a compatible native strain.