ARS scientists developing methods to stop aflatoxin contamination in corn

USDA researchers are working to fight fungi that affect corn.
USDA researchers are working to fight fungi that affect corn.
Scientists with the government's Agricultural Research Service are working on a number of remedies to a corn fungus problem which may result in assisting farm equipment users.

According to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, two approaches are being pursued by ARS researches regarding fungi that produce aflatoxin, a carcinogen that is dangerous to humans and animals. One involves employing a benign strain to compete with dangerous versions of the problem parasite, while another helps corn resist the buildup of the chemical.

Both methods have been tested and proved affective in their own ways, according to the USDA. The competition led to the development of Afla-Guard, which was authorized in use on crops in 2009.

Meanwhile, an experiment conducted in Mississippi last year and in 2008 showed that corn hybrids that included an ARS-developed resistance to aflatoxin had 95 percent less accumulation of the chemical than commercial hybrids.

In 2009, scientists with the ARS finished a four-year project that led to sequencing the corn genome. Doing so may lead to more productive versions of the crop.