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Biocontrol of Aflatoxin Contamination Using Atoxigenic Strains from Almond and Pistachio Orchards. . (BIOCONTROL-A)

Aflatoxins (AF), the most toxic and carcinogenic compounds among the mycotoxins, are mainly produced by the fungi Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus. Because these fungi are common soil residents of almond and pistachio orchards, these nuts are one of the main sources of human exposure to AF. The consumption of almond and pistachio has increased in recent years in the European Union (EU) due to their positive effects on the consumers' health. Spain has the largest area (587.000 ha) under almond cultivation after USA and its pistachio growing-area is exponentially expanding. Contaminated batches of Spanish nuts by AFs have been frequently detected. Application of atoxigenic strains of A. flavus has successfully reduced crop AF-contamination in the USA and Africa. This biological control strategy uses endemic atoxigenic A. flavus strains, considered best adapted, to displace the AF-producing fungi. Unfortunately, EU farmers do not have the benefit of this type of biological control technology since there are not registered atoxigenic strains in this area. The aim of current project is to: i) improve substrate and application methods of atoxigenic A. flavus; ii) select new biological control agents for their patent and future registration in EU and USA; and iii) construct mechanistic models of risk for AF-contamination. The expected results will have a positive impact improving food safety and the environment and securing economic benefits to EU farmers and agri-food industries. In addition, this project supports capacity building, provides the foundation to the fellow in pursuing his independent scientific career and strengthens collaboration with research groups from EU and USA, three small-medium enterprises (SEMs), and a spin-off company.

Universidad de Córdoba

The main gol is to find atoxigenic isolates of A. flavus, which could be used a potential Biological Control Agents.

Specific objectives are: identify the risk factors associated to aflatoxin contamination in Andalusia region and identify atoxigenic Andalusian isolates of A. flavus

Scientific papers related with the current Project.

The Project enhance the future career prospects of the researcher after the fellowship in these impacts:

- to improve of professional profile by increase of scientific and multidisciplinary skills;

- to establish a collaboration network beyond the host institution and provide international visibility and strength of network capacity, in the field of plant disease epidemiology and biological control;

- to increase of European R&I visibility;

- This project will allow us to select the first biocontrol strains of A. flavus to be registered in EU in the near future. In addition, the risks models from this project will also improve competitiveness of the EU growers. 


Patología Agroforestal

Code PAIDI: AGR-216


Universidad de Córdoba

Budget of Andalusian group: € 235,674.9€

Keywords: Food sciences, Agriculture relate to crop production, soil biology and cultivation, applied plant biology, aspergillus flavus, aflatoxin, biological control, plant disease epidemiology, biological control agent.
Duration: 32 months. September, 1th 2016 to May, 31th 2019
Project cost: € 235,674.9€