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Keywords:

  • mycotoxins;
  • aflatoxins;
  • bioplastic;
  • biological control;
  • Zea mays;
  • biopesticides

Abstract

Background

A novel biocontrol strategy consisting of field application of bioplastic-based granules inoculated with a non-toxigenic Aspergillus flavus L. strain has recently been shown to be effective for reducing aflatoxin contamination in corn. This study focused on other factors that may affect the feasibility of this biocontrol technique, and more specifically the role of the European corn borer (ECB), Ostrinia nubilalis H., in the dispersal and infestation of A. flavus in corn and its impact on crop yield.

Results

In spite of the high percentage of corn ears showing larval feeding damage, ECB-bored kernels accounted for only 3 and 4% in 2009 and 2010 respectively. Most of the damaged kernels were localised in the ear tip or immediately below. More precisely, the average incidence of ECB-bored kernels in the upper end of the ear was 32%. However, less than 5% of kernels from the central body of the ear, which includes the majority of kernels, were injured by ECB.

Conclusions

Although ECB larvae showed a high tolerance to aflatoxin B1 and thus had the potential to serve as vectors of the mould, fungal infection of kernels was poorly associated with insect damage. ECB infestation resulted in grain yield losses not exceeding 2.5%. © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry