The Aspergillus flavus group covers species of A. flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus as aflatoxin producers and Aspergillus oryzae and Aspergillus sojae as koji molds. Genetic similarity among these species is high, and aflatoxin production of a culture may be affected by cultivation conditions and substrate composition. Therefore, a polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-mediated method of detecting the aflatoxin-synthesizing genes to indicate the degree of risk a genotype has of being a phenotypic producer was demonstrated. In this study, 19 strains of the A. flavus group, including A. flavus, A. parasiticus, A. oryzae, A. sojae, and one Aspergillus niger, were subjected to PCR testing in an attempt to detect four genes, encoding for norsolorinic acid reductase (nor-1), versicolorin A dehydrogenase (ver-1), sterigmatocystin O-methyltransferase (omt-1), and a regulatory protein (apa-2), involved in aflatoxin biosynthesis. Concurrently, the strains were cultivated in yeast-malt (YM) broth for aflatoxin detection. Fifteen strains were shown to possess the four target DNA fragments. With regard to aflatoxi-genicity, all seven aflatoxigenic strains possessed the four DNA fragments, and five strains bearing less than the four DNA fragments did not produce aflatoxin. When peanut kernels were artificially contaminated with A. parasiticus and A. niger for 7 days, the contaminant DNA was extractable from a piece of cotyledon (ca. 100 mg), and when subjected to multiplex PCR testing using the four pairs of primers coding for the above genes, they were successfully detected. The target DNA fragments were detected in the kernels infected with A. parasiticus, and none was detected in the sound (uninoculated) kernels or in the kernels infected with A. niger.

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