U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Document Type


Date of this Version



Arias, R.S., Dang, P.M., Sobolev, V.S. RNAi-mediated Control of Aflatoxins in Peanut: Method to Analyze Mycotoxin Production and Transgene Expression in the Peanut/Aspergillus Pathosystem. J. Vis. Exp. (106), e53398, doi:10.3791/53398 (2015).

The video component of this article can be found at http://www.jove.com/video/53398/

or http://www.jove.com/video/53398/rnai-mediated-control-aflatoxins-peanut-method-to-analyze-mycotoxin


US govt work.


The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that 25% of the food crops in the world are contaminated with aflatoxins. That represents 100 million tons of food being destroyed or diverted to non-human consumption each year. Aflatoxins are powerful carcinogens normally accumulated by the fungi Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus in cereals, nuts, root crops and other agricultural products. Silencing of five aflatoxin-synthesis genes by RNA interference (RNAi) in peanut plants was used to control aflatoxin accumulation following inoculation with A. flavus. Previously, no method existed to analyze the effectiveness of RNAi in individual peanut transgenic events, as these usually produce few seeds, and traditional methods of large field experiments under aflatoxin-conducive conditions were not an option. In the field, the probability of finding naturally contaminated seeds is often 1/100 to 1/1,000. In addition, aflatoxin contamination is not uniformly distributed. Our method uses few seeds per transgenic event, with small pieces processed for real-time PCR (RT-PCR) or small RNA sequencing, and for analysis of aflatoxin accumulation by ultra-performance liquid chromatography (UPLC). RNAi-expressing peanut lines 288-72 and 288-74, showed up to 100% reduction (p≤0.01) in aflatoxin B1 and B2 compared to the control that accumulated up to 14,000 ng.g-1 of aflatoxin B1 when inoculated with aflatoxigenic A. flavus. As reference, the maximum total of aflatoxins allowable for human consumption in the United States is 20 ng.g-1. This protocol describes the application of RNAi-mediated control of aflatoxins in transgenic peanut seeds and methods for its evaluation. We believe that its application in breeding of peanut and other crops will bring rapid advancement in this important area of science, medicine and human nutrition, and will significantly contribute to the international effort to control aflatoxins, and potentially other mycotoxins in major food crops.