Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 78, Issue 4, pp 559–572 | Cite as

Diverse inhibitors of aflatoxin biosynthesis

  • Robert A. Holmes
  • Rebecca S. Boston
  • Gary A. Payne


Pre-harvest and post-harvest contamination of maize, peanuts, cotton, and tree nuts by members of the genus Aspergillus and subsequent contamination with the mycotoxin aflatoxin pose a widespread food safety problem for which effective and inexpensive control strategies are lacking. Since the discovery of aflatoxin as a potently carcinogenic food contaminant, extensive research has been focused on identifying compounds that inhibit its biosynthesis. Numerous diverse compounds and extracts containing activity inhibitory to aflatoxin biosynthesis have been reported. Only recently, however, have tools been available to investigate the molecular mechanisms by which these inhibitors affect aflatoxin biosynthesis. Many inhibitors are plant-derived and a few may be amenable to pathway engineering for tissue-specific expression in susceptible host plants as a defense against aflatoxin contamination. Other compounds show promise as protectants during crop storage. Finally, inhibitors with different modes of action could be used in comparative transcriptional and metabolomic profiling experiments to identify regulatory networks controlling aflatoxin biosynthesis.


Aspergillus Secondary metabolism Oxidative stress Host resistance 



The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support from the Aflatoxin Multi-Crop Working Group, North Carolina Agricultural Research Service and Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems grant no. 2001-52101-11507 from the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert A. Holmes
    • 1
  • Rebecca S. Boston
    • 1
  • Gary A. Payne
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Plant BiologyNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  2. 2.Department of Plant PathologyNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA

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