Provitamin A Carotenoids in Grain Reduce Aflatoxin Contamination of Maize While Combating Vitamin A Deficiency. uri icon

abstract

  • Aflatoxin contamination of maize grain and products causes serious health problems for consumers worldwide, and especially in low-and middle-income countries where monitoring and safety standards are inconsistently implemented. Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) also compromises the health of millions of maize consumers in several regions of the world including large parts of sub-Saharan Africa. We investigated whether provitamin A (proVA) enriched maize can simultaneously contribute to alleviate both of these health concerns. We studied aflatoxin accumulation in grain of 120 maize hybrids formed by crossing 3 Aspergillus flavus resistant and three susceptible lines with 20 orange maize lines with low to high carotenoids concentrations. The hybrids were grown in replicated, artificially-inoculated field trials at five environments. Grain of hybrids with larger concentrations of beta-carotene (BC), beta-cryptoxanthin (BCX) and total proVA had significantly less aflatoxin contamination than hybrids with lower carotenoids concentrations. Aflatoxin contamination had negative genetic correlation with BCX (0.28, p < 0.01), BC (0.18, p < 0.05), and proVA (0.23, p < 0.05). The relative ease of breeding for increased proVA carotenoid concentrations as compared to breeding for aflatoxin resistance in maize suggests using the former as a component of strategies to combat aflatoxin contamination problems for maize. Our findings indicate that proVA enriched maize can be particularly beneficial where the health burdens of exposure to aflatoxin and prevalence of VAD converge with high rates of maize consumption.

publication date

  • 2019
  • 2019