ABSTRACT

Cereal grains are usually ensiled to improve their nutritional value and are one of the main sources of feed for dairy cattle. However, during storage, grains can be contaminated with toxicogenic fungi. Sorghum is one of the most economically important cereals in the world. Therefore, the aim of this work was to evaluate the influence of storage duration and tannin and moisture content (MC) on toxicogenic fungal populations in sorghum grain storage. Samples that were prepared with varieties high in tannins (genotypes Morgan 108 and ACA 558, >5 g/kg dry matter) and with varieties low in tannin content (genotypes Flash 10 and ACA 546, <1 g/kg dry matter) were collected and manually compacted in experimental laboratory silos where they received different MC treatments: low (15 to 25%), medium (26 to 32%), and high (33 to 42%). Freshly harvested grains were analyzed at time 0, and stored grains were analyzed at 30, 90, and 180 days. Fungal isolation and identification were performed following conventional mycological methods. Penicillium citrinum (34%), Aspergillus flavus (60%), and Fusarium nygamai (68%) were the most abundant species. Rapid detection of aflatoxins and fumonisins in each sample was performed using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay according to the AOAC method, and the quantification of aflatoxin B1 was performed using high-performance liquid chromatography. In four samples of pre- and poststorage grains, aflatoxins were detected with levels of 6.7 to 28.8 μg/kg and aflatoxin B1 with a level of 2 to 14 μg/kg. Fumonisins were only detected in two freshly harvested samples, with levels of 500 to 900 μg/kg. In general, storage time favored the increase of Penicillium populations and reduced Aspergillus and Fusarium. Conversely the abundance of the three populations was not affected by the MC. The results of this study show that fungal populations must be analyzed at different times.

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Storage favored Penicillium colonization; fresh grains favored Fusarium.

  • Aspergillus abundance in high-tannin grains decreased with storage time.

  • Storage for 180 days inhibited fungal colonization in high- and low-tannin grains.

  • Aflatoxins and fumonisin were found in few samples and at low levels in grains.

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