Biotech Updates

Scientists Identify Maize Proteins Causing Aflatoxin Production

July 8, 2011

Aspergillus flavus is a fungal pathogen in maize. Some strains can produce carcinogenic aflatoxins, causing threat not just in the fields but also to the health of the consumers. Maize lines with resistance to A. flavus have been identified but the development of commercially-useful lines has been hindered by the lack of breeding markers. Thus, Zhi-Yuan Chen of Louisiana State University Agricultural Center in the U.S., together with other scientists, identified maize resistance associated proteins (RAPs) which can be used as breeding markers.

The researchers analyzed a total of 52 lines developed from crossing African maize inbreds and aflatoxin-resistant lines, and selected five pairs of closely-related lines for proteomic investigation. Kernel embryo and endosperm protein profiles were compared within the pair and across pairs through 2D polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis.

Differentially expressed RAPs were sequenced and identified as antifungal, stress-related, storage or regulatory proteins. Further analysis led to identification of several proteins in maize that confer resistance to A. flavus infection and/or aflatoxin production.

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