Insects. 2021 Aug 14;12(8):730. doi: 10.3390/insects12080730.
Tribolium castaneum is one of the most common insect pests of stored products. Its presence makes cereals more susceptible to the spread of the fungi Aspergillus flavus, which may produce mycotoxins. The aim of this work was to evaluate the influence of T. castaneum adults on the development of a mycotoxigenic A. flavus strain in maize flour as well as the influence of this fungus on the insects. Maize flour was exposed to T. castaneum, spores of A. flavus or to both. The results revealed an interaction between T. castaneum and A. flavus as the flour exposed to both organisms was totally colonized by the fungus whereas almost all the insects were killed. Aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) revealed a significantly higher concentration in the flour inoculated with both organisms (18.8 µg/kg), being lower when exposed only to A. flavus, suggesting that the presence of insects may trigger fungal development and enhance mycotoxin production. The ability of these organisms to thrive under the same conditions and the chemical compounds they release makes the interaction between them a subject of great importance to maintain the safety of stored maize. This is the first work evaluating the interaction between T. castaneum and A. flavus mycotoxin production.