ENZYME ACTIVITY OF FUNGI ASSOCIATED WITH STORED MAIZE GRAINS OBTAINED FROM SOME SELECTED FARMS NEAR BENIN CITY, NIGERIA
Global concern about food safety has led to increased interest in the study of food-spoilage fungi. Contaminated food affects human and animal health when such food items are consumed. This study was carried out to determine the fungi associated with stored corn in a bid to establishing their possible role in deterioration of corn. Using standard procedures, these fungi were isolated: Aspergillus, Trichoderma, Penicillium, and Rhizopus species. Results revealed the production of enzymes (protease, amylase, and lipase) by the fungi. The activity of these enzymes could play a role in the spoilage of corn by the fungi. In addition, the isolated fungi are known to be associated with postharvest yield losses in stored produce as well as producing toxins. Therefore, the data presented will help in choosing postharvest practices that will reduce contamination by these fungi. Protease activity values of the isolates ranged from 1.426±0.042 – 1.748±0.023µml-1 (in Aspergillus sp.), 1.599±0.018 – 1.990±0.019µml-1 (in Rhizopus sp.), 1.364±0.018 – 1.679±0.012µml-1 (in Trichoderma sp.) and (1.544±0.017 – 1.714±0.013 μml-1 (in Penicillium sp.). Amylase activity was highest in Rhizopus (1.625±0.054 – 1.790±0.013 μml-1), followed by Penicillium sp and lowest in Aspergillus sp. Lipase activity was highest in Penicillium and lowest in Aspergillus. The detection and identification of fungi are crucial to developing appropriate management strategies for stored corn. Postharvest losses due to these fungi will lead to reduced income for the farmers.
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