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Open Access Research article

Oligonucleotide microarray for the identification of potential mycotoxigenic fungi

Sabine Lezar* and Eugenia Barros

Author Affiliations

Biosciences, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), PO Box 395, Brummeria, Pretoria, 0001, South Africa

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BMC Microbiology 2010, 10:87  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-10-87

Published: 23 March 2010

Abstract

Background

Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites which are produced by numerous fungi and pose a continuous challenge to the safety and quality of food commodities in South Africa. These toxins have toxicologically relevant effects on humans and animals that eat contaminated foods. In this study, a diagnostic DNA microarray was developed for the identification of the most common food-borne fungi, as well as the genes leading to toxin production.

Results

A total of 40 potentially mycotoxigenic fungi isolated from different food commodities, as well as the genes that are involved in the mycotoxin synthetic pathways, were analyzed. For fungal identification, oligonucleotide probes were designed by exploiting the sequence variations of the elongation factor 1-alpha (EF-1 α) coding regions and the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) regions of the rRNA gene cassette. For the detection of fungi able to produce mycotoxins, oligonucleotide probes directed towards genes leading to toxin production from different fungal strains were identified in data available in the public domain. The probes selected for fungal identification and the probes specific for toxin producing genes were spotted onto microarray slides.

Conclusions

The diagnostic microarray developed can be used to identify single pure strains or cultures of potentially mycotoxigenic fungi as well as genes leading to toxin production in both laboratory samples and maize-derived foods offering an interesting potential for microbiological laboratories.