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Aspergillus bertholletius

New fungus in the Brazil Nut


The new Brazil nut fungus: Aspergillus does not produce aflaxtoxinsJOHN PITT E LÉO RAMOS

A new species of fungus was discovered in the Brazil nut. Named Aspergillus bertholletius in reference to the scientific name for the Brazil nut (Bertholletia excelsa), the microorganism was identified and described by researchers from Brazil, Europe, the United States and Australia (August 2012 issue of Plos One). The species does not produce aflaxtoxin, a type of substance that can be carcinogenic in high amounts. It does, however, produce the compound O-Methylsterigmatocystin, a precursor to the aflaxtoxins.  “This characteristic may help us to better understand the aflaxtoxin biosynthetic pathway and provide parameters for controlling this toxin that has been detected in Brazil nuts,” says Marta H. Taniwaki, of the Food Technology Institute of Campinas, one of the study’s authors.  According to the researcher, the discovery of the new species attests to the great biodiversity of fungus found in Brazil, particularly in the Amazon region.