Agricultural Sciences
Vol.06 No.09(2015), Article ID:60049,8 pages

Estimation of Mycotoxin Multiple Contamination in Mexican Hybrid Seed Maize by HPLC-MS/MS

Silvia Denise Peña Betancourt1*, Benjamín Valladares Carranza2, Eduardo Posadas Manzano3

1Department of Animal and Agricultural Production, Laboratory of Toxicology, UAM-X, México, D.F., México

2Center of Research and Studies in Animal Health, FMVZ, UAEM, Toluca, México

3Department of Animal Ruminants, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, UNAM, México, D.F., México

Email: *

Copyright © 2015 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution International License (CC BY).

Received 4 August 2015; accepted 23 September 2015; published 29 September 2015


In Mexico, the presence of mycotoxins in chemical treated seed maize by sowing is not well known, despite the need to improve the quality and corn safe for human consumption. It collected twenty- five genotypes maize samples from Morelos State in the spring of 2013, all of them treated with synthetic colors (pink, green, yellow), fungicides and insecticides. Two samples (synthetic seed and hybrid commercial) were selected for analysis of twenty-two mycotoxins by LC-MS/MS and AFB1 determination by liquid chromatography and fluorescence detection (HPLC-FLD). The results of the 25 samples showed the presence of Aflatoxin B1 in 25% of samples in a ranged concentration between 2 to 6 µg∙kg−1, and average of 4.1−1 µg∙kg, which were within the allowed limits by national and international legislation. Twenty-two mycotoxins were found in levels ranging between 791.7 and 891.2 µg∙kg. The content average in both samples was for total aflatoxins (AFB1, AFB2, AFG1, AG2) of 16.95 µg∙kg, with G aflatoxins the most prevalence. Twelve trichothecenes (Nivalenol, Neosolanol, Fusarenone X, DAS, HT-2, FB1, FB2, FB3, T-2, Zearalenone, ZEA2, ZEA3) were in a level of 292.7 µg∙kg−1, Enniantine 8.6 µg∙kg−1, Sterigmatocystin 6.5 µg∙kg−1, Roquefortine C, 2.9 µg∙kg−1. Ochratoxin 8.8 µg∙kg−1 and Mycophenolic acid at 535 µg∙kg−1 were the highest content. The synthetic color present in seeds analyzed inhibited a good purification in the extracted mycotoxin by optimizing the step in HPLC-MS/MS quantification system. The information generated in this study would be useful in breeding programs in order to improve the sanitary quality and also to investigate the final contamination of agricultural products with multiple mycotoxin contamination.


Maize Seed, Warehouse, Moulds, Mycotoxins, HPLC, MS/MS

1. Introduction

In Mexico, maize (corn) is the most produced and consumed cereal, like tortilla, an adult may consume 360 g/day [1] . Producer’s corn requires protecting seed before planting; using fungicides, insecticides and synthetic dyes as yellow, green and pink to prevent consumption by people [2] . Studies show that a co-occurrence of fungus and mycotoxins in harvest and post-harvest maize is possible around the world [3] , but there is not enough information in the chemically treated seed previously sowing. Mycotoxins are a group of secondary metabolites produced by different fungus in maize, one of the most toxic compounds known for humans [4] . The aflatoxin B1 (AFB1), is carcinogenic; Ocratoxine A (OTA) and Fumonisins are genotoxic, immunotoxic and recently classified by International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2B group of substances possible to human carcinogenic [5] [6] . Esterigmatocistine (ST) is hepatotoxic; in general most of mycotoxins are immunosuppressive [7] , indeed it is important to know their exposure since a chronic exposure to low levels can give diseases like cancers [8] , additionally it is not well known about the possible interaction between multiple mycotoxins [9] ; and on the other hand, fungus and mycotoxins would remain in environment (air, soil, water), due to their stability against degradation [10] -[12] . Among the identified fungus in post-harvest are Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus parasiticus, Aspergillus ochraceus which are producers of Sterigmatocystin, Aflatoxin B1, B2, G1 and G2 and Ochratoxin A; Penicillium spp, producer of Roquefortine C and Mycophenolic acid, Fusarium verticilliodes (Zearalenone, Deoxynivalenol, DAS, Nivalenol, T-2, HT-2, Fusarenona X, Fumonisin B1, FB2, FB3) and Alternaria alternate, Alternariol (AL) and Methyl ethyl alternariol (AM) [13] . Various methods have been used to isolate and quantify the levels of mycotoxins, such as liquid chromatography with fluorescense detector (HPLC/ FLD), high performance liquid chromatography coupled to system triple-quadruple mass spectrometer (HPLC- MS/MS). In Mexico official tests to determine the presence of AFB1 and total aflatoxins (AFB1, AFB2, AFG1, AFG2, AFM1) are HPLC/FLD [14] [15] . The National regulation sets a maximum level of 20 µg/kg and 0.05 µg/ kg AFB1 and AFM1 in raw maize and milk [16] . In some countries more of 20 mycotoxins are subject to legal guidance and regular monitoring [17] -[19] , like in Food Analysis Laboratory in Ghent University at Belgium, which make a survey of 35 mycotoxins and regulated AFB1 and DON in 5 µg∙kg, total Fumonisins at 50 µg∙kg−1, zearalenone at 500 µg∙kg−1 and Ochratoxin A in 5 µg∙kg−1 [20] . This study was designed to analyze AFB1 as well as twenty-two mycotoxins in sowing maize seed in one synthetic variety and commercial hybrid maize, both adapted to a tropical region in the country.

2. Materials and Methods

2.1. Collection of Samples

25 genotypes of white and yellow hybrid maize were collected directly (about 1 kg each) in experimental station, Zacatepec Morelos State in the spring of 2013. It is a region geographically defined by the coordinates of 18˚37' and 18˚41' north latitude, 99˚10' and 99˚14' west longitude; with warm humid climate; the annual average rainfall is 892 mm and the minimum and maximum temperatures are 24˚C and 40˚C in an altitude between 900 to 1200 m. The comprised genotypes of maize adapted to temperate and tropical regions, all of them treated with colors (pink, green, yellow), fungicides and insecticides. These two samples were chosen based on their significance, one of two in terms of synthetic variety and the other for production and protein value, both sample were trilinear varieties.

2.2. Chemical, Reagents and Materials

All mycotoxins standards, solvents and material used like methanol, acetonitrile HPLC grade from Merck Company were purchased from Sigma-Aldrich Company, USA.

2.3. Stock Solutions

The mycotoxin standard stock solutions were prepared weighting 1 mg of AFB1, Sterigmatocistine and Zearalenone, 5 mg each of T-2 toxin Neosolaniol; 10 mg of Deoxynivalenol, Nivalenol and Fusarenone X. Each of them were placed in a 50 mL volumetric flask and dissolved by the addition of acetonitrile.

2.4. AFB1 Extraction

Aflatoxin B1 was held at the Laboratory Toxicology at UAM Xochimilco by a liquid chromatography and fluorescence detection (FLD), using Varian Polaris equipment. The method according to the official method [21] was used. In a dried and ground sample (50 g) was mixed with 100 mL of 80% methanol in water (vol/vol) and shaken for 1 h. The aflatoxin B1 was separated on an analytical reversed phase column C18 (150 mm × 4.6 mm) 5 um particles. The mobile phase was composed of water/methanol/acetonitrile (60:20:20 v/v). Aflatoxin B1 detection was carried out at excitation l 360 nm, and emission l 440 nm wavelengths, in a flow rate was 1 mL min of the mobil phase. Finally the retention time was calculated with five consecutive injections of AFB1 working solutions.

2.5. Multiple Mycotoxin Extraction

Twenty-two mycotoxins were performed according to the protocol of food analysis laboratory of the Faculty of Pharmacy of the Ghent University, Belgium by HPLC on tandem mass (LC-MS/MS) with ionization detection (Waters UPLC-Quattro Tandem Quadruple MS instrument). Briefly the procedure was taken a 2.5 g of milling sample extracted with acetonitrile/H2O (95:5 v/v) +10 Mm NH4-acetate in pH 3.0, hexane defatting in a shaker by 60 min, centrifugation 3000 rpm for 15 min, filtration (0.25 µm), clean with tandem immunoassay column, the eluate was evaporated to dryness and redissolution with injection system, so finally made a 10 µL injection to LC/MS/MS.

3. Results

The average of multiple mycotoxins analysis in synthetic and hybrid commercial seed are summarized in Table 1. Total mycotoxins mean content was 556.9 µg∙kg−1, which is the first time that had been described in chemically treated seeds prior to its sowing in Mexico. Fumonisins concentration (FB1, FB2 and FB3) was 134.3 µg∙kg−1, while FB2 with the highest concentration of 67.4 µg∙kg−1, total aflatoxins (AFG2, AFG1, AFB1, AFB2) in 16.9 µg∙kg−1, with AG2 the most important (8.5 µg∙kg−1), Ochratoxin A with 8.80 µg∙kg−1, Sterigmatocistine 6.50 µg∙kg−1, Roquefortine C 2.9 µg∙kg−1, Enniantine 8.65 µg∙kg−1, trichothecenes type A and B (NIV, NEO, FUSX, DAS, HT-2, T-2, Zearalenone, ZEA1, ZEA2) with a total levels of 197.4 µg∙kg−1 Alternariol 17.4 µg∙kg−1 and Methyl Alternariol 16.7 µg∙kg−1.

In synthetic seed, the content of FB1, FB2 and FB3 were 33.3, 66.1, 29.9 µg∙kg−1 respectively, with a total of 129.3 µg∙kg−1, AFG2, AFG1, AFB1 and AFB2 in 8.5 µg∙kg−1, 3.6 µg∙kg−1, 1.7 µg∙kg−1, 2.4 µg∙kg−1 respectively with a total of 16.2 µg∙kg−1, the Ochratoxin A in 8.70 µg∙kg−1, Sterigmatocistine 6.50 µg∙kg−1, Roquefortine C, 2.5 µg∙kg−1, Enniantine 8.60 µg∙kg−1, trichothecenes (Nivalenol, NEO, Fusarenone X, Diacetoxyscirpenol, HT-2, T-2, Zearalenone, ZEA1, ZEA2) with a total content of 123.0 µg∙kg−1, Alternariol 14.7µg∙kg−1 and Methyl Alternariol 15.3 µg∙kg−1.

In commercial hybrid seed, the content of FB1, FB2 and FB3 were 42 µg∙kg−1, 68 µg∙kg−1 and 29.3 µg∙kg−1 respectively with a total of 139.3 µg∙kg−1, AFG2, AFG1, AFB1 and AFB2 in 9.2 µg∙kg−1, 3.6 µg∙kg−1, 2.4 µg∙kg−1 and 2.5 µg∙kg−1 with a total of 17.7 µg∙kg, Ochratoxin A 8.90 µg∙kg, Sterigmatocistine 6.50 µg∙kg, Roquefortine C, 3.3 µg∙kg−1, Eniantine 8.70 µg∙kg−1, trichothecenes (NIV, NEO, FUSX, DAS, HT-2, T-2, ZEA1, ZEA2, ZEA3) with 171.8 µg∙kg−1, Alternariol 20.1 µg∙kg−1 and Methyl Alternariol 18.1 µg∙kg−1. Figures 1-8 show the chromatograms from LC-MS/MS detected multiple mycotoxins in synthetic and commercial hybrid seed.

Table 1. Mycotoxins contamination in seed samples studies.

1, 2 = multiple mycotoxins analysis.

Figure 1. Occurrence of multiple mycotoxin in hybrid seed chemically treated.

Figure 2. Identification of AFG2, AFG1, AFB2, AFB1 and derivative mycotoxins.

4. Discussion

The aflatoxins levels detected in eight samples of chemical treated seed maize in our study were lower from

Figure 3. Detection of Alternariol. HT2, Fumonisine B1, and T2.

Figure 4. Identification of FB3, FB2, Zearalenone, Zearalenone2, Ochratoxin A, Sterigmatocistine and Roquefortine C.

detected feed corn used in animal production at Mexico [22] . However, we had an Aflatoxin G2 in the highest content, which was probably due that Aspergillus flavus didn’t find the environmental conditions for survival or the subspecies flavus were not produced AFB1 [23] [24] . Nevertheless, we found Sterigmatocistine, which might

Figure 5. Multiple mycotoxins detection in commercial hybrid seed maize.

Figure 6. Identification of thricothecene mycotoxins.

be aflatoxins precursor. In Mexico the Fumonisins occurrence in improved corn grain has been noted previously in levels 03 to 64 µg∙kg−1, and commercial hybrid in 32 µg∙kg−1 [25] ; similar to the found results in the treated seeds, suggesting that the chemical treatment has not been possible to protect the seed against fungus, according

Figure 7. Alternariol, HT2 toxin, FB1, T2 Toxin.

Figure 8. Co-occurrence of eight mycotoxins in commercial seed hybrid maize.

to [26] , there is growing evidence that loss of soil biodiversity is a serious issue for arable soils under intensive cultivation. The mycophenolic acid (MPA) [6-(4-hydroxy-6-methoxy-7-methyl-3-oxo-5-phthalanyl)-4-me-thyl- 4-hexenoic acid] was the higher mycotoxin incidence in both hybrid seed samples, which is related to Penicillium roqueforti ubiquitous fungus and known to have antibiotic properties but little known about their natural prevalence in feed and foods for human consumption, contrary has been studied in silage corn in the feeding of dairy cows [27] . The alternariol (AOH) and methyl ethyl alternariol (AME) are mycotoxins produced by Alternaria sp. It is a common saprophyte pathogen of senescent plant residue and in soil, these mycotoxins are detected in soy, it has been notified the co-occurrence AOH in a minimum level of 25 µg∙kg and AME in 62 µg∙kg−1 [28] . All these findings indicate that chemical treated seed maize prior sowing are susceptible to fungus infection and mycotoxins contamination [29] -[31] . The low mycotoxins concentration was due to the extracts purification failure, which could not be removed as interference colorant. It has been mentioned that it is an essential step in the analysis of mycotoxins, especially when chromatographic techniques are used for their determination at trace levels [32] .

5. Conclusion

The present study has reported for the first time a survey of multiple mycotoxin contamination in two chemically treated hybrids maize seed for sowing in Mexico, although the median concentrations of the analytes were in a low level allowed in the National Legislation. These data about the presence and content of mycophenolic acid, Ochratoxin A, Fumonisins, Nivalenol, Fusarenone X and Alternariol can be used into National Programs of breeding in order to improve the sanitary quality and to investigate the final contamination of agricultural products with multiple mycotoxin contamination.

Cite this paper

Silvia DenisePeña Betancourt,Benjamín ValladaresCarranza,Eduardo PosadasManzano, (2015) Estimation of Mycotoxin Multiple Contamination in Mexican Hybrid Seed Maize by HPLC-MS/MS. Agricultural Sciences,06,1089-1097. doi: 10.4236/as.2015.69104


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