Understanding the mycobiota of maize from the highlands of Guatemala, and implications for maize quality and safety

José Rodrigo Mendoza, Car Reen Kok, Jayne Stratton, Andréia Bianchini, Heather E. Hallen-Adams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Maize is a staple crop in Guatemala, especially in the rural regions where it is consumed in high amounts. Given that traditional pre- and post-harvest practices lead to exposure to the environmental surroundings where pests and microorganisms may be present, maize quality and safety can be compromised severely. In order to assess the potential degree of risk, an exploratory study involving maize mycobiota from six farms from Huehuetenango, Guatemala was conducted. DNA was extracted from the maize samples, and the ITS1 region was subjected to Illumina sequencing. This survey identified 52 fungal taxa in the 90-day maize storage period. For the samples where the maize moisture content exceeded 20%, a high yeast content was observed which can reflect spoilage during storage. A significant amount of Fusarium and Aspergillus – mycotoxin-producing molds – was found, representing a potential for mycotoxin contamination. This indicates a plausible health risk in a region where maize represents a significant portion of the diet. Potential maize pathogens in the genera Acremonium and Cladosproium, and Stenocarpella maydis, were also common. Results from this study can help better understand the potential health-risk scenario in the Highlands of Guatemala if poor grain handling practices are adopted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-11
Number of pages7
JournalCrop Protection
StatePublished - Nov 2017


  • Corn
  • Fungal population
  • Microbiota
  • Mycotoxins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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