International journal of food microbiology

Influence of water activity and temperature on growth and mycotoxin production by Alternaria alternata on irradiated soya beans.

PMID 21737171


The aim of this study was to determine the effects of water activity (a(w)) (0.99-0.90), temperature (15, 25 and 30°C) and their interactions on growth and alternariol (AOH) and alternariol monomethyl ether (AME) production by Alternaria alternata on irradiated soya beans. Maximum growth rates were obtained at 0.980 a(w) and 25°C. Minimum a(w) level for growth was dependent on temperature. Both strains were able to grow at the lowest a(w) assayed (0.90). Maximum amount of AOH was produced at 0.98 a(w) but at different temperatures, 15 and 25°C, for the strains RC 21 and RC 39 respectively. Maximum AME production was obtained at 0.98 a(w) and 30°C for both strains. The concentration range of both toxins varied considerably depending on a(w) and temperature interactions. The two metabolites were produced over the temperature range 15 to 30°C and a(w) range 0.99 to 0.96. The limiting a(w) for detectable mycotoxin production is slightly greater than that for growth. Two-dimensional profiles of a(w)× temperature were developed from these data to identify areas where conditions indicate a significant risk from AOH and AME accumulation on soya bean. Knowledge of AOH and AME production under marginal or sub-optimal temperature and a(w) conditions for growth can be important since improper storage conditions accompanied by elevated temperature and moisture content in the grain can favour further mycotoxin production and lead to reduction in grain quality. This could present a hazard if the grain is used for human consumption or animal feedstuff.