Use of MALDI-TOF MS to Discriminate between Aflatoxin B1-Producing and Non-Producing Strains of Aspergillus flavus

Molecules. 2022 Nov 14;27(22):7861. doi: 10.3390/molecules27227861.


Aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) is one of the most toxic mycotoxins. One of the producers of AFB1 is Aspergillus flavus. Therefore, its rapid identification plays a key role in various sectors of the food and feed industry. MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry is one of the fastest and most accurate methods today. Therefore, the aim of this research was to develop the rapid identification of producing and non-producing strains of A. flavus based on the entire mass spectrum. To accomplish the main goal a different confirmatory MALDI-TOF MS and TLC procedures such as direct AFB1 identification by scraping from TLC plates, A. flavus mycelium, nutrient media around A. flavus growth, and finally direct AFB1 identification from infected wheat and barley grains had to be conducted. In this experiment, MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry with various modifications was the main supporting technology. All confirmatory methods confirmed the presence of AFB1 in the samples of aflatoxin-producing strains of A. flavus and vice versa; AFB1 was not detected in the case of non-producing strains. Entire mass spectra (from 2 to 20 kDa) of aflatoxin-producing and non-producing A. flavus strains were collected, statistically analyzed and clustered. An in-depth analysis of the obtained entire mass spectra showed differences between AFB1-producing and non-producing strains of A. flavus. Statistical and cluster analysis divided AFB1-producing and non-producing strains of A. flavus into two monasteries. The results indicate that it is possible to distinguish between AFB1 producers and non-producers by comparing the entire mass spectra using MALDI-TOF MS. Finally, we demonstrated that if there are established local AFB1-producing and non-producing strains of A. flavus, the entire mass spectrum database identification of aflatoxigenic A. flavus strains can be even faster and cheaper, without the need to identify the toxin itself.

Keywords: Aspergillus flavus; MALDI-TOF MS; aflatoxin B1; discrimination.

MeSH terms

  • Aflatoxin B1
  • Aflatoxins*
  • Aspergillus flavus*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization / methods


  • Aflatoxin B1
  • Aflatoxins