Diversity of thermophilic and thermotolerant fungi in corn grain.

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Diversity of thermophilic and thermotolerant fungi in corn grain.

Mycologia. 2019 Jul 26;:1-11

Authors: Sandona K, Billingsley Tobias TL, Hutchinson MI, Natvig DO, Porras-Alfaro A

Corn bins in the midwestern United States can reach temperatures up to 52 C. High temperatures combined with sufficient moisture and humidity in bins provide the perfect environment to promote the growth of thermophilic and thermotolerant fungi. In this article, we characterize for the first time thermophilic and thermotolerant fungi in corn grain bins using culture-based methods and pyrosequencing techniques. Corn samples were collected from local farms in western Illinois. Samples were plated and incubated at 50 C using a variety of approaches. Of several hundred kernels examined, more than 90% showed colonization. Species identified using culture methods included Thermomyces lanuginosus, Thermomyces dupontii, Aspergillus fumigatus, Thermoascus crustaceus, and Rhizomucor pusillus. Pyrosequencing was also performed directly on corn grain using fungal-specific primers to determine whether thermophilic fungi could be detected using this technique. Sequences were dominated by pathogenic fungi, and thermophiles were represented by less than 2% of the sequences despite being isolated from 90% of the grain samples using culturing techniques. The high abundance of previously undocumented viable fungi in corn could have negative implications for grain quality and pose a potential risk for workers and consumers of corn-derived products in the food industry. Members of the Sordariales were absent among thermophile isolates and were not represented in nuc rDNA internal transcribed spacer (ITS) sequences. This is in striking contrast with results obtained with other substrates such as litter, dung, and soils, where mesophilic and thermophilic members of the Sordariaceae and Chaetomiaceae are common. This absence appears to reflect an important difference between the ecology of Sordariales and other orders within the Ascomycota in terms of their ability to compete in microhabitats rich in sugars and living tissues.

PMID: 31348716 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

Source: Industry