Degradation of Aflatoxin B1 in Contaminated Maize

Case ID:

Inventors at the University of Arizona have developed a method for removing Aflatoxin B1 from contaminated crops by using a specific type of fungus, Pleurotus ostreatus. Aflatoxin concentrations can be reduced from levels considered unacceptable for human or animal consumption to levels at which the products are safe to consume. Furthermore, the method leads to the generation of edible mushrooms free of aflatoxin.


Aflatoxins are cancer-causing chemicals that are produced by certain molds that grow in staple foods such as rice, peanuts, wheat, etc. Aflatoxins can also have other negative health effects including growth retardation, immune suppression, and even death. Following an investigation into the effectiveness of Pleurotus ostreatus in biodegrading aflatoxin B1, researchers at the University of Arizona have devised a method for degrading aflatoxins in staple foods to levels acceptable for use in livestock feed or for the generation of high quality food from contaminated sources by using the fungus Pleurotus ostreatus.



  • Purification of aflatoxin-contaminated crops
  • Conversion of aflatoxin-contaminated crops into edible mushrooms
  • Purification of cosmetics



  • Designed with the purpose of eliminating aflatoxin B1 from contaminated crops
  • Proven to be effective in purifying contaminated materials with toxin concentrations below a specific threshold
  • Can be used to covert some of the nutrition content from the contaminated crops into healthy mushrooms
  • Potential to salvage batches of contaminated cosmetics
  • Potential for use in tandem with other control measures
  • Requires less labor than other post-harvest interventions, especially those employed in developing countries, such as hand sorting for the removal of contaminated nuts
  • Cheaper and easier to implement
  • Increases efficiency because the fungus itself generates the degrading enzymes continually without the need to add enzymes
  • Mitigates economic losses due to geography
  • Increased practicality for developing countries
  • Does not utilize complex equipment or require the use of finite chemical reagents or other expensive materials
  • Potential to teach subsistence farmers to use the method to reduce the harm caused by aflatoxin-contaminated grain
Patent Information:
Contact For More Information:
Tod McCauley
Assistant Director of Licensing, CALS
The University of Arizona
Lead Inventor(s):
Barry Pryor
Lauren Jackson