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


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Date of this Version



Published in Food Additives and Contaminants, December 2007; 24(12): 1367–1373. DOI: 10.1080/02652030701509964


The effects of cotton–corn rotation and glyphosate use on levels of soil-borne Aspergillus flavus, aflatoxin and fumonisin contamination in corn and cotton seed were determined during 2002–2005 in Stoneville, Mississippi (USA). There were four rotation systems (continuous cotton, continuous corn, cotton–corn and corn–cotton) for both glyphosate-resistant (GR) and non-GR cultivars–herbicide system arranged in a randomized complete block design with four replications. Aspergillus flavus populations in surface (5-cm depth) soil, sampled before planting (March/April), mid-season (June) and after harvest (September), ranged from 1.47 to 2.99 log (10) cfu g-1 soil in the four rotation systems. Propagules of A. flavus were higher in the continuous corn system compared to the continuous cotton system on three sample dates, and cotton rotated with corn decreased A. flavus propagules in three of nine sample dates. Propagules of A. flavus were significantly greater in plots with GR cultivars compared to non-GR cultivars in three samples. In cotton seed, aflatoxin and fumonisin levels were similar (≤ 4 mgkg-1 and non-detectable, respectively) regardless of rotation and glyphosate. In corn grain, aflatoxin was above the regulatory level (≥ 20 mgkg-1) only in GR cultivar in 2004 and 2005. Fumonisin was higher in non- GR cultivar (4mgkg-1) regardless of rotation in 2004; however, in 2002, 2003 and 2005, aflatoxin and fumonisin levels were similar regardless of rotation and glyphosate. These results indicate the potential for increased aflatoxin and fumonisin levels (1 of 4 years) in corn; however, climatic conditions encountered during this study did not allow for mycotoxin production. In laboratory incubation studies, fairly high concentrations of glyphosate were required to inhibit A. flavus growth; however no short-term effect of soil treatment with glyphosate on A. flavus populations were observed. These data suggest that altered populations of A. flavus or higher aflatoxin concentrations in corn grain were due to indirect effects of the GR cropping system.