Effect of Temperature during Drying and Storage of Dried Figs on Growth, Gene Expression and Aflatoxin Production
Toxins (Basel). 2021 Feb 11;13(2):134. doi: 10.3390/toxins13020134.
Dried fig is susceptible to infection by Aspergillus flavus, the major producer of the carcinogenic mycotoxins. This fruit may be contaminated by the fungus throughout the entire chain production, especially during natural sun-drying, post-harvest, industrial processing, storage, and fruit retailing. Correct management of such critical stages is necessary to prevent mould growth and mycotoxin accumulation, with temperature being one of the main factors associated with these problems. The effect of different temperatures (5, 16, 25, 30, and 37 °C) related to dried-fig processing on growth, one of the regulatory genes of aflatoxin pathway (aflR) and mycotoxin production by A. flavus, was assessed. Firstly, growth and aflatoxin production of 11 A. flavus strains were checked before selecting two strains (M30 and M144) for in-depth studies. Findings showed that there were enormous differences in aflatoxin amounts and related-gene expression between the two selected strains. Based on the results, mild temperatures, and changes in temperature during drying and storage of dried figs should be avoided. Drying should be conducted at temperatures >30 °C and close to 37 °C, while industry processing, storage, and retailing of dried figs are advisable to perform at refrigeration temperatures (<10 °C) to avoid mycotoxin production.