A Novel Niosome-Encapsulated Essential Oil Formulation to Prevent Aspergillus flavus Growth and Aflatoxin Contamination of Maize Grains During Storage

Toxins (Basel). 2019 Nov 6;11(11):646. doi: 10.3390/toxins11110646.


Aflatoxin (AF) contamination of maize is a major concern for food safety. The use of chemical fungicides is controversial, and it is necessary to develop new effective methods to control Aspergillus flavus growth and, therefore, to avoid the presence of AFs in grains. In this work, we tested in vitro the effect of six essential oils (EOs) extracted from aromatic plants. We selected those from Satureja montana and Origanum virens because they show high levels of antifungal and antitoxigenic activity at low concentrations against A. flavus. EOs are highly volatile compounds and we have developed a new niosome-based encapsulation method to extend their shelf life and activity. These new formulations have been successfully applied to reduce fungal growth and AF accumulation in maize grains in a small-scale test, as well as placing the maize into polypropylene woven bags to simulate common storage conditions. In this latter case, the antifungal properties lasted up to 75 days after the first application.

Keywords: Aspergillus flavus; Origanum virens; Satureja montana; aflatoxin; corn; essential oils; nanoparticles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aflatoxins / biosynthesis*
  • Aspergillus flavus / growth & development*
  • Aspergillus flavus / metabolism
  • Drug Compounding
  • Edible Grain / chemistry
  • Edible Grain / microbiology*
  • Food Contamination / prevention & control
  • Food Storage*
  • Fungicides, Industrial / administration & dosage
  • Fungicides, Industrial / pharmacology*
  • Liposomes
  • Oils, Volatile / administration & dosage
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Zea mays / chemistry
  • Zea mays / microbiology*


  • Aflatoxins
  • Fungicides, Industrial
  • Liposomes
  • Oils, Volatile