Deadly strains of Kenyan Aspergillus are distinct from other aflatoxin producers

Claudia Probst, Kenneth Callicot, Peter J Cotty

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69 Citations (Scopus)


Aflatoxin contamination of crops is a world-wide problem. Lethal aflatoxicosis of humans has been associated with maize produced in Kenya for over three decades. The S strain morphotype of Aspergillus flavus was identified as the primary cause of aflatoxin contamination events occurring between 2004 and 2006 in Kenya. Because the S strain was first described in the U. S., it was suggested that the agent causing lethal levels of aflatoxins was introduced to Kenya with maize. DNA sequence comparisons among 68 S strain isolates from Kenya, the Americas, Asia, and Australia suggest the Kenyan isolates are distinct from those causing aflatoxin contaminations in the U. S. Analyses of 4.06 kb representing three loci from distinct chromosomes indicate that most S strain isolates from the U. S. resolved into a clade distinct from one containing the 30 Kenyan isolates. S strain isolates from Kenya were more closely related to the recently described species A. minisclerotigenes than to A. flavus. Furthermore, failure of the Kenyan isolates to produce G aflatoxins was attributed to a previously undescribed deletion in the cypA gene, suggesting that different deletion events led to loss of G aflatoxin production in S strain isolates from the U. S. and Kenya. Thus, although the Kenyan isolates have S strain morphology and produce large quantities of only B aflatoxins like A. flavus S strain isolates, these isolates are phylogenetically divergent from those described from other regions. The molecular characteristics of the Kenyan S strain isolates described herein are valuable tools to identify and track these highly aflatoxigenic fungi.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-429
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Plant Pathology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


  • Aflatoxin contamination
  • Aspergillus
  • Kenya
  • Maize
  • Phylogeny
  • S morphotype


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