A new metabolite which could be converted to aflatoxin (AF) B2 was detected during cofermentation analysis of two nonaflatoxigenic strains (SRRC 2043 and SRRC 163) of Aspergillus parasiticus. SRRC 2043, which accumulates the xanthone O-methylsterigmatocystin (OMST), a late precursor in the AFB1 pathway, was observed to accumulate another chemically related compound (HOMST; molecular weight, 356); SRRC 163 is blocked early in the pathway and accumulates averantin. During cofermentation of the two strains, levels of OMST and HOMST were observed to be greatly reduced in the culture, with simultaneous production of AFB1, AFB2, and AFG1. Intact cells of SRRC 163 were able to convert pure OMST or its precursor, sterigmatocystin, to AFB1 and AFG1 without AFB2 accumulation; the same cells converted isolated HOMST to AFB2 with no AFB1 or AFG1 production. The results indicate that AFB2 is produced from a separate branch in the AF biosynthetic pathway than are AFB1 and AFG1; AFB2 arises from HOMST, and AFB1 and AFG1 arise from sterigmatocystin and OMST.
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