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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 8 No. 1, p. 5-11
    Received: Dec 8, 1977

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The Role of Insects and Other Plant Pests in Aflatoxin Contamination of Corn, Cotton, and Peanuts—A Review1

  1. N. W. Widstrom2



The relationship of insects to certain fungi and moldy agricultural commodities has received special attention in the last several years since it was determined that some of the fungi produce aflatoxin and other toxic metabolites. These fungi and their toxic by-products have been suggested for use as insecticides, as a source of stable chemosterilants, and as potentially effective biological control agents for various insect species. The principal role of the insect in the toxin contamination of agricultural commodities is believed to be one of predisposing plant tissue to invasion by the fungus. The European corn borer, Ostrinia nubilalis (Hübner), the corn earworm, Heliothis zea (Boddie), and the fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (J. E. Smith), have been identified as the major insects implicated in Aspergillus flavus infection and subsequent aflatoxin contamination of preharvest corn (Zea mays L). The pink bollworm, Pectinophora gossypiella (Saunders), and, to a lesser extent, the boll weevil, Anthonomus grandis Boheman, appear to be influential in predisposing cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) and cotton seed to A. flavus infection. The available literature does not provide conclusive evidence to positively link the pests of peanuts (Arachis hypogaea L.) with aflatoxin contamination of that crop. Therefore, insect control is expected to be less helpful in solving the aflatoxin contamination problem on peanuts than on corn or cotton.

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