Limiting temperature and relative humidity for aflatoxin production byAspergillus flavus in stored peanuts
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Sound mature kernels, broken mature kernels, immature kernels and unshelled cured Early Runner peanuts were inoculated with spores ofAspergillus flavus and incubated up to 84 days in controlled environment cabinets. In a series of experiments temperatures ranged from 8 to 49 C in combination with 98±1% relative humidity (RH); in others RH was varied from 70% to 99% at 30±1/2 C and from 83% to 99% at 20±1/2 C. Samples were removed after 7, 21, 42 and 84 days of incubation and assayed for aflatoxin, free fatty acids and peanut kernel moisture. Aflatoxin was formed in sound mature kernels at 40 C and 14 C and in broken mature kernels at 13 C, but none was formed at 41 C after 21 days or at 12 C after 84 days in 98±1% RH. The limiting temperatures for aflatoxin formation in peanut kernels with intact shells were 41 C for 21 days and 16 C for 84 days of incubation. The limiting RH at 30 C for aflatoxin production in sound mature kernels was 84%, whereas in broken mature and immature kernels it was 83% and in kernels from unshelled peanuts the limiting RH was 86% for 84 days of incubation. The limiting RH at 20 C for sound and broken mature kernels was 83%, whereas it was 86% RH for immature kernels and 92% for kernels from unshelled peanuts. Free fatty acid formation was correlated with visible growth of fungi rather than with aflatoxin production. Aflatoxin formation was generally correlated with kernel moisture contents of 10% or higher.
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