AIMS Microbiology, 2020, 6(3): 231-249. doi: 10.3934/microbiol.2020015.

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Molecular and Vegetative Compatibility Groups Characterization of Aspergillus flavus Isolates from Kenya

1 OMICS Research Group, Department of Biotechnology, Vaal University of Technology, Vanderbijlpark 1911, South Africa
2 School of Biological Sciences, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya

The genus Aspergillus contains diverse species and the identification is complicated. Vegetative compatibility groups (VCGs) and molecular mechanisms were deployed to study the species. The study was randomly conducted in four counties in Kenya based on the history of aflatoxicosis and maize cultivation. Thirty-seven Aspergillus flavus isolates from Nandi, Kisumu, Homa Bay and Makueni were characterized to determine their taxonomic status based on their VCGs and genotypes. A phylogenetic analysis of ITS1 and ITS2 sequences of the isolates investigated revealed ITS primers discriminating some of the A. flavus isolates as 100% sequence identity to the RefSeq. Nit mutants’ complementation test revealed strong heterokaryon incompatibility between isolates of Nandi region (67%) and Makueni (33%). The trend based on VCGs and molecular findings showed high incidence of toxigenic A. flavus in Makueni, which could be the reason why the region frequently experiences chronic aflatoxicosis incidences over the last few decades as compared to other regions. Interestingly, we have discovered all S and L-morphotypes including the rare S/L-morphotypes, which implies that Kenya is home to all morphotypes of A. flavus. Thus, the analysis provides a deeper understanding of the taxonomic relationship between the A. flavus isolates and could help contextualise the data obtained for each isolate with respect to VCG genetic diversity and genotypes. Determining the primary causal agents of aflatoxin contamination is critical for predicting risk of contamination events and designing and implementing effective management strategies.
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Keywords Aspergillus flavus; aflatoxicosis; morphotype; vegetative compatibility group; heterokaryon

Citation: Alfred Mitema, Naser Aliye Feto. Molecular and Vegetative Compatibility Groups Characterization of Aspergillus flavus Isolates from Kenya. AIMS Microbiology, 2020, 6(3): 231-249. doi: 10.3934/microbiol.2020015

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