Non-thermal plasma induces changes in aflatoxin production, devitalization, and surface chemistry of Aspergillus parasiticus

Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2022 Feb 23. doi: 10.1007/s00253-022-11828-y. Online ahead of print.


Non-thermal plasma (NTP) represents the fourth state of matter composed of neutral molecules, atoms, ions, radicals, and electrons. It has been used by various industries for several decades, but only recently NTPs have emerged in fields such as medicine, agriculture, and the food industry. In this work, we studied the effect of NTP exposure on aflatoxin production, conidial germination and mycelial vitality, morphological and surface changes of conidia and mycelium. When compared with colonies grown from untreated conidia, the colonies from NTP-treated conidia produced significantly higher levels of aflatoxins much earlier during development than colonies from untreated conidia. However, at the end of cultivation, both types of cultures yielded similar aflatoxin concentrations. The increase in the accumulation of aflatoxins was supported by high transcription levels of aflatoxin biosynthetic genes, which indicated a possibility that NTP treatment of conidia was having a longer-lasting effect on colony development and aflatoxins accumulation. NTP generated in the air at atmospheric pressure effectively devitalized Aspergillus parasiticus in conidia and hyphae within a few minutes of treatment. To describe devitalization kinetics, we applied Weibull and Hill models on sets of data collected at different exposure times during NTP treatment. The damage caused by NTP to hyphal cell wall structures was displayed by raptures visualized by scanning electron microscopy. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy demonstrated that changes in cell envelope correlated with shifts in characteristic chemical bonds indicating dehydration, oxidation of lipids, proteins, and polysaccharides. Key points • Non-thermal plasma increases aflatoxin production shortly after treatment. • Non-thermal plasma rapidly devitalizes Aspergillus parasiticus. • Non-thermal plasma disrupts the cell surface and oxidizes biological components.

PMID:35194655 | DOI:10.1007/s00253-022-11828-y

Source: Industry