1Graduated from Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran
2Department of Food Hygiene and Aquaculture, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran
3Department of Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran
4Department of Agronomy and Plant Breeding, Mashhad Branch, Islamic Azad University, Mashhad, Iran
Aflatoxins are secondary toxic metabolites produced by some Aspergillus spp. particularly, Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus that contaminate food and feed. The objective of this study was to evaluate the contamination of feedstuffs with Aspergillus spp. and detect genes involved in the aflatoxin biosynthesis pathway of A. flavus and A. parasiticus isolates. A total of 110 cow feed samples (comprised of silage, concentrate, hay and total mixed ration) from 30 industrial and semi-industrial dairy farms of Khorasan Razavi province, northeastern Iran, were examined using cultural and PCR methods. 68 (61.82%) Aspergillus spp. were isolated from 110 samples of feedstuff. The predominant Aspergillus isolates were A. fumigates (21.81%), followed by A. flavus (17.27%), A. niger (10%), A. parasiticus (8.18%), and A. oryzae (4.54%). Fungal contamination levels of industrial and semi-industrial dairy farm samples were not significantly different (P>0.05). Using four sets of primers, a quadruplex PCR was developed to detect genes (nor1, ver1, omtA and aflR) at different loci coding enzymes in the aflatoxin biosynthesis pathway of A. flavus and A. parasiticus strains. Out of 28 strains of A. flavus and A. parasiticus, 10 isolates (35.71%) showed a quadruplet pattern indicating the important genes involved in the aflatoxin biosynthesis pathway, encoded for functional products. These isolates were confirmed to be aflatoxigenic by Thin Layer Chromatography. 18 isolates (64.29%) had three, two and single molecular patterns. The results obtained by this study show that rapid and specific detection of aflatoxigenic molds is important to ensure the microbiological safety of feedstuffs.