Evaluation of the effect of influential factors on the Aflatoxin levels of medicinal herbs in different climate regions
In this study, 80 samples of herbs were prepared in order to measure the aflatoxin level in different regions of Iran. Aflatoxin was extracted, using 80% methanol and then purified via immunoaffinity column. Measurements were performed using high-performance liquid chromatography. According to the results, unfavorable conditions lead to the development of Aspergillus infection and the production of the associated toxins (e.g., aflatoxin). Given the role of various environmental factors in fungal growth and aflatoxin production (as a secondary fungal metabolite), improvement of these factors could significantly prevent the infection. In this study, a number of environmental factors, such as moisture content of the samples, temperature, and relative humidity, which could have an impact on the infection of medicinal herbs, were evaluated in different climate regions. The examination of factors affecting the aflatoxin level showed a significant difference between the samples in terms of moisture (P=0.042). No significant correlation was observed between the average temperature and aflatoxin levels (P=0.374). No significant association was observed between the mean of humidity and aflatoxin levels (P=0.878). On the other hand, changes in the moisture content of the samples during the storage period were almost stable in different regions. According to the results, there was insufficient moisture exchange between the sample and the surrounding environment to increase Aspergillus growth and aflatoxin production. This indicated that aflatoxin levels were not affected by environmental factors in this study. In fact, contamination of samples happened at previous stages, including culture, harvest, and storage, which could be increased in an unfavorable environment during the following stages.
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