The occurrence of P. verrucosum and ochratoxin A (OTA) were surveyed for 3 and 4 years, respectively. A total of 250 samples was collected from an average of 30 farms during the 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 winter seasons. Most storage bins surveyed were typically 11 m high round bins made of corrugated, galvanized steel, with flat-bottoms and conical roofs. Samples of clumped grain contained the most P. verrucosum (p<0.05, n = 10) followed by samples taken from the first load (n = 24, mean = 147±87 CFU/g) and last load (n = 17, mean = 101±77 CFU/g). Five grain samples (2.2%) tested positive for OTA, citrinin and OTB at concentrations of 14.7±7.9, 4.9±1.9 and 1.2±0.7 ng/g, with only three samples exceeding 5 ng/g. Grain samples positive for OTA were related to moisture resulting from either condensation or migrating moist warm air in the bin or areas where precipitation including snow entered the bin. Bins containing grain and clumps contaminated with OTA were studied in detail. A number of statistically-significant risk factors for OTA contamination were identified. These included 1) grain clumps accumulated around or directly under manhole openings, 2) debris and residue of old grain or grain clumps collected from the bin walls or left on storage floor and augers and 3) grain clumps accumulated around side doors. Even when grain enters storage below the 14.5% threshold of moisture, condensation and moisture migration occurs in hotspots in modern corrugated steel storage bins. Hot spots of OTA contamination were most often in areas affected by moisture migration due to inadequate aeration and exposure to moisture from precipitation or condensation. Further, we found that the nature of the condensation affects the nature and distribution of small and isolated areas with high incidence of toxin contamination and/or P. verrucosum prevalence in the grain bins examined.

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Journal PLoS ONE
Limay-Rios, V. (Victor), Miller, JD, & Schaafsma, A.W. (Arthur W.). (2017). Occurrence of Penicillium verrucosum, ochratoxin A, ochratoxin B and citrinin in on-farm stored winter wheat from the Canadian Great Lakes Region. PLoS ONE, 12(7). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0181239