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Ecological Basis for Aflatoxin Reduction through Crop Management and Biological Control


<ol> <li> Improve manufacture and formulation of ATOX for management of aflatoxin
contamination. Specifically address problems in applying atoxigenic strain
technology to commercial practice and optimize formulation for successful delivery of
biocontrol agents. <li> Characterize influences of agronomic practices (tillage,
irrigation, crop rotation, application strategy) on biocontrol of aflatoxin
contamination and optimize field use of ATOX on a commercial scale. <li> Develop an
epidemiological model to explain formation of aflatoxins in Texas and Arizona, with
emphasis on the contamination after crop maturation (the second phase of
contamination). <li> Characterize the major vegetative compatibility groups (VCGs)
associated with Arizona and Texas agriculture and associated niches, and test
geographical and niche specialization in order to improve understanding of the
etiology of contamination and selection of ATOX with improved competitive ability in
target crops/areas. Develop both a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) database and
molecular tracking techniques useful in characterizing the composition of A. flavus
communities, at both the strain and VCG level on crops and in the environment. <li>
Characterize A. flavus responses to varying environments and ecological niches
(including animal and plant hosts) to assess fungal adaptations leading to niche
competence and to facilitate selection of elite biocontrol strains and development of
management practices. Data will be used to contribute to select elite biocontrol
strains with improved efficacy and safety.

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Develop improved formulations and production techniques to address problems in
commercial practice of biological control and to increase efficacy against aflatoxin
producing fungi. Through field tests and retrospective analyses characterize
influences of agronomic practices on biological control and use recommendations.
Apply geostatistical and epidemiological tools to development of a model to predict
aflatoxin contamination after crop maturation. Collect representative A. flavus from
crops in Texas and Arizona and characterize strain specialization, adaptive traits,
and optimal atoxigenic strains for distinct cropping systems. Develop both a SNP
database for differentiating distinct A. flavus strains and a molecular technique for
quantifying strain incidence in environmental samples. Select elite biocontrol
strains based on improved knowledge of A. flavus adaptations and responses to
relevant environments and ecological niches. Formerly 5344-42000-016-00D (11/05).
Related to MSA 6435-42000-020-00D. Formerly 5344-42000-019-00D (2/06).

Cotty, Peter
USDA - Agricultural Research Service
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