Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) can synthesize antimicrobial compounds (AMCs) with nutritional and bioprotective properties in crops and food products. In the current study, AMCs of Lactobacillus coryniformis BCH-4 were evaluated to control fungal spoilage in maize grains. On maize grains treated with 75%-100% (v/v) concentrated AMCs, no fungal growth was observed even after 72 h of Aspergillus flavus inoculation. Proximate analysis of treatments A1 (raw grains), A2 (A. flavus inoculated grains) and A3 (A. flavus + AMCs inoculated grains) revealed that moisture was significantly (p ≤ 0.05) high in A2 than A3 and A1. Meanwhile, protein, fat, fiber and ash contents were significantly decreased in A2 compared to A1 and A3. Moreover, β-carotene contents were not statistically different between A1 and A3, while in A2 it was significantly decreased. HPLC analysis revealed the presence of 2-oxopropanoic acid, 2-hydroxypropane-1,2,3-tricarboxylic acid, 2-hydroxybutanedioic acid, 2-hydroxypropanoic acid, propanedioic acid and butanedioic acid, which also showed antifungal activity against Aspergillus flavus. FTIR spectroscopy revealed the presence of hydroxyl, carbonyl and ester-groups along with organic and fatty acids, thereby indicating their participation in inhibitory action. Furthermore, the AMCs were found to be a good alternative to chemical preservatives, thereby not only preserving the nutritive qualities but increasing the shelf life as well.
Keywords: FTIR; HPLC; Lactobacillus coryniformis; antimicrobial compounds; maize (Zea mays L.).