Journal of Plant Science Current Research Category: Agriculture Type: Research Article

Fungal Contamination of some Common Spices

SK Shiva Rani1* and Neeti Saxena1
1 Department Of Botany, University College For Women, Koti, Hyderabad, India

*Corresponding Author(s):
SK Shiva Rani
Department Of Botany, University College For Women, Koti, Hyderabad, India
Email:shivaranisilamkoti79@gmail.com

Received Date: Dec 15, 2021
Accepted Date: Jan 10, 2022
Published Date: Jan 17, 2022

Abstract

Spices form an integral part of our daily diet, medicine, religious rituals, cosmetics and perfumery. Ajowan, black pepper and fennel are extensively used spices in India. Spices are exposed to microbial contamination during pre, post-harvest and storage period. Seed Mycoflora not only deteriorate the quality of spices but also increase the mycotoxin contamination. Tropical countries like India suffer the losses mainly due to storage fungi. The present investigation deals with the isolation and identification of fungi associated with the ajowan, black pepper and fennel. Seed borne fungi was isolated by employing agar plate technique from both unsterilized and surface sterilized test seed samples. Total 26 fungal species were isolated from the test spices. Seven fungal species viz. Alternaria alternata, Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus niger, Curvalaria lunta, Mucor sp, Rhizopus nigricans and Penicillium chrysogenum were commonly isolated from all the three spice samples. Aspergillus constitute a dominant storage fungi represented by 9 species.

Keywords

Agar plate technique; Seed Mycoflora; Spices

Introduction

Spices constitute an important group of horticultural commodities which play a significant role in national economy. They are the plant substances from indigenous or exotic origin. According to the International Organization For Standardization (ISO) the term ‘Spices and condiments’ refer to an aromatic or pungent vegetable substances used for flavouring and also have several commercial uses. Spices includes leaves (coriander, mint),flower(clove),leaf bases (garlic, onion),fruit(red chilli, black pepper), stem bark (cinnamon),rhizome (ginger, turmeric) and other plant parts [1]. They been used as an integral part of our daily diet, medicine, religious rituals, cosmetics and perfumery. Spices are used as a raw material in folk medicine, as an ingredient in drug preparations of traditional medical systems, in pharmaceuticals and as a supplement for dietetic products especially for self medication [2]. The therapeutic activity of spices is due to the presence of tartaric acid, acetic acid, citric acid, succinic acid, gums, pectin, sugars, tannins, alkaloids, flaviniods, glycosides and sesquiterpenes [3,4] Aida oils, oleoresins, ground spices like curry powder, paprika and as a variety of spice mixtures. From last few decades, as there is a definite shift towards traditional/ ethnic medicines and spices form a part of many of the medicinal preparations. The demand for the good quality of the spices has been increased, but the quality of spices is far from being satisfactory due to the postharvest losses [5] stated seed deterioration is one of the basic reasons for the low productivity with annual losses of 25% of the harvested crop. The stored grains deteriorate rapidly and marked changes in quality and quantity are due to invasion of microorganisms and losses caused by them are referred to as biodeterioration [6]. 

Spices are exposed to microbial contamination during pre and postharvest period [7].Contamination may also occur during processing, storage, distribution, sale and usage of spices [8]. In spices, most of the microbial populations are probably regarded as commensal residents on the plant and survived drying and storage phases [9]. According to [10] soil and air are the main inoculums source for causing contamination in crude spices in field and reported that fungi are the most predominant contaminants of spices [11] reported that mycoflora of spices like paprika, black pepper, white pepper and ginger was dominated by airborne fungi. Spices are heavily contaminated with xerophilic storage moulds such as Aspergillus, Penicillium [12-16]. Improper storage conditions provide ideal environment for the rapid colonization by storage fungi and drying on bare ground may results in toxic moulds contamination and mycotoxins production.

Materials and Methods

In the present work is aimed to throw light on the investigation of detailed survey of mycoflora of three spices viz Ajowon (Trachyspermum ammi L.) Black pepper (Piper nigrum L.) and Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Mill.).Seed samples were collected from the local markets and malls in loose and pack form respectively from the Hyderabad. All the spice samples (12) were packed in transparent polythene bags and transported to laboratory. In the present study agar plate method has been used to isolate seed mycoflora. 

Isolation of fungi was done from the unsterilized seeds (untreated) and surface sterilized seeds (treated) with 2% sodium hypochlorite solution by employing Agar plate technique [17]. Potato dextrose medium was used for the isolation of fungi. Inoculated petriplate were incubated at 270C .Examination of plates were done from the 4th day up to 10th day. Fungi appearing on the seeds and around it were isolated and monosporic cultures were raised for specific identification was done by referring relevant literature [18]. Incidence of fungal species is calculated by percentage relative frequency [19,20].

Results and Discussion

Data given in the table, a total 26 fungal species were isolated from the test species viz Alternaria alternata, Alternaria humicola, Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus fumigatus, Aspergillus niger, Aspergillus ochraceus, Aspergillus sydowii, Aspergillus tamarii, Aspergillus terreus, Chaetomium sp, Cladosporium sp Cochiliobolus spicifer Curvularia lunata, Drechslera hawaiiensis, Fusarium moniliforme, Fusraium oxysporum, Mucor sp, Penicillium chrysogenum, Rhizopus arrihizus, Rhizopus nigricans Rhizopus stolonifera, Trichoderma longibrachiatum, Trichoderma viride. A high percentage frequency of fungi was isolated from unsterilized seeds when compared to surface sterilized seeds. Fungi screened from the test samples belong to ascomycetes, zygomycetes and mitosporic fungi. 

On individual basis 15, 17 and 19 fungal species were isolated from ajowon, black pepper and fennel. Seven fungal species viz. Alternaria alternata, Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus niger, Curvalaria lunta, Mucor sp, Rhizopus nigricans and Penicillium chrysogenum were commonly isolated from all the three spice samples. Maximum fungal diversity was detected in fennel (12 genera) followed by ajowan and minimum fungal diversity was found in black pepper. It was observed that Aspergillus constitute a dominant storage fungi represented by a 9 species. 

It was observed that Aspergillus niger (28%) showed the maximum percentage of incidence and minimum of Trichoderma longibrachiatum (2%) on ajowan seeds. Aspergillus flavus was recorded at high percentage on black pepper (26%) and fennel (38%), where as Fusarium oxysporum (3%) and Trichoderma viride (2%) on black pepper and fennel seeds respectively (Table 1).

Percentage (%) incidence of different species of fungi on spices

 
 

S.No

Name of the fungi

Trachyspermum ammi

Piper nigrum

Foeniculum vulgare

 

 

 

US

S

US

S

US

S

 

1

Alternaria alternata

20

17

20

12

27

18

 

2

Alternaria humicola

-

-

22

16

27

12

 

3

Alternaria tenuissima

18

12

-

-

-

-

 

4

Aspergillus candidus

-

-

12

6

15

10

 

5

 Aspergillus flavus

18

15.5

28

26

40

38

 

6

 Aspergillus fumigatus

23.2

20

16

15

30

26

 

7

Aspergillus niger

30

28

19

17

22

20

 

8

Aspergillus nidulans

14

6

8

6

8

6

 

9

Aspergillus ochraceus

22

16

12

8

10

10

 

10

Aspergillus sydowii

-

-

10

8

-

-

 

11

Aspergillus tamarii

-

-

-

-

20

15

 

12

Aspergillus terreus

16

10

20

10

30

20

 

13

Chaetomium sp

15

8

15

12

20

12

 

14

Cladosporiumsp

16

6

-

-

-

-

 

15

Cochiliobolus spicifer

-

-

-

-

32

26

 

16

Curvularia lunata

-

-

18

16

36

24

 

17

Drechslera hawaiiensis

10

8

9

6

12

10

 

18

Fusarium moniliforme

-

-

-

-

-

-

 

19

Fusraium oxysporum

8

6

8

3

-

-

 

20

Mucor sp

22

20

20

15

36

34

 

21..

Penicillium chrysogenum

18

16

12

10

40

35

 

22

Rhizopus arrihizus

-

-

22

18

-

-

 

23

Rhizopus nigricans

-

-

-

-

18

14

 

24

Rhizopus stolonifera

-

-

-

-

28

18

 

25

Trichoderma longibrachiatum

10

2

-

-

-

-

 

26

Trichoderma viride

-

-

-

-

6

2

 

Table 1: Percentage frequencies of fungi isolated from three spices seed samples by agar plate method.

Discussion

Spices constitute an important fraction of human diet due to its high nutritive value and they also act as good substrates for the growth of toxigenic fungi. Spices are exposed to a wide range of microbial contamination due to poor collection conditions, unpretentious production process, extended drying times and improper storage. In addition, spices can be contaminated through dust, wastewater and animal human excreta in unpacked spices, which are sold in markets and bazaars [21,22]. 

In the present study 26 fungal species belonging to 12 genera were isolated from the three test samples. Improper harvest, drying, package practices, post-harvest and storage conditions also cause for wide spectrum of fungi. It shows that fungi are predominant contaminants of spices. The unsterilized seed harboured more number of fungi than surface sterilized seed. 

The results obtained reveals that maximum fungal species were isolated from fennel, where as Moharram et al., 1989 reported 25 species of Aspergillus from Foeniculum vulgare and Pimpinella anisum seeds collected from local markets of Egypt. Ath-Har et al., studied the mycoflora of Piper nigrum, Coriandrum sativum, Capsicum frutescens, Cuminum cyminum, Foeniculum vulgare, Trigonella foenumgraecum and Brassica nigra. Aspergillus flavus, A. niger, A. nidulans, A. sydowii, A. ochraceus, Penicillium and Rhizopus spp. were most frequently isolated from the above spices. 

The most predominant genus encountered was Aspergillus represented by 9 species in the test samples. similar observations were made by [23-25] reported Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus niger were dominant in their survey of seed mycoflora from common spices collected from the markets of sultanate of Onam. Climatic conditions of tropical and subtropical countries favour the growth of Aspergilli as stated by Pitt [26,27]. 

In conclusion, the results indicates that though the spices like black pepper, fennel and ajwon are known for their antimicrobial properties and used in therapeutic uses were  heavily contaminated by fungi. Seed mycoflora not only deteriorate the quality of spices but also increase the mycotoxin contamination. Improving the storage, post-harvest and processing conditions may help in low risk of fungal contamination.

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Citation: Rani SK, Saxena N (2022) Fungal Contamination of some Common Spices. J Plant Sci Curr Res 5: 014

Copyright: © 2022  SK Shiva Rani, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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