Growth-Independent Inhibition of Aflatoxin Biosynthesis With Selected Silver Nanoparticles


Reference #: 01253

The University of South Carolina is offering licensing opportunities for using selected silver nanoparticles to inhibit aflatoxin biosynthesis.



Chronic low-level exposure of aflatoxins and other carcinogenic mycotoxins is a serious potential health threat to both plants and animals. Silver nanoparticles (Ag NPs) have emerged as a great candidate to address the challenge these toxins pose due to their antimicrobial properties and efficacy in controlling diverse and multi-drug resistant microbes. They are generally preferred to silver ions because of their lower mammalian cytotoxicity, along with their ease of synthesis and use. Additional studies on the effect of Ag NPs on microbial metabolism are essential to comprehensively evaluate their beneficial effects on food preservation, as well as their potential harmful impact on environmental health. The study leading up to this invention focused on the growth-independent effects of Ag NPs on fungal secondary metabolism using the plant pathogen, Aspergillus parasiticus.


Invention Description:

The subject invention is a technology that can be used to inhibit the synthesis of aflatoxin (a carcinogenic fungal toxin) with sub-lethal doses of custom designed silver nanoparticles. Using their model plant pathogen Aspergillus parasiticus, the inventors where able to establish that the particles inhibit the activation of genes that regulate the synthesis of aflatoxin. However, this inhibition of aflatoxin biosynthesis does not require inhibition of fungal growth.


Potential Applications:

Mycotoxin management in the US Agricultural sector costs between $1.3 to 2.5 billion annually. Among these, aflatoxin alone contributes $276 - $709 million to these costs. On the human side, it is estimated that children in the rural areas of southern US ingest ~40μg aflatoxin through contaminated food every day, which can lead to a significant rise in aflatoxin-induced liver cancer cases. NIH statistics show that 16,600 new cases of aflatoxin-induced liver cancer are reported per year in the United States. The subject invention introduces a safer option for efficient control of the contamination of crops by aflatoxins and other mycotoxins with minimal human hazard and risk to the environment.


Advantages and Benefits:

Currently known nanoparticle-mediated inhibition of fungal toxins involves applying the nanoparticles at a lethal dose that are often hazardous to the environment and human/animal health. Using the plant pathogen Aspergillus parasiticus as a sample, the subject invention was able to successfully bypass the need to kill the fungus by preventing the activation of the genes that regulate the biosynthesis of aflatoxin at sub-lethal doses.


Patent Information:
Title App Type Country Serial No. Patent No. File Date Issued Date Expire Date Patent Status
Growth-Independent Inhibition of Aflatoxin Biosynthesis With Selected Nanoparticles Utility United States 15/911,327   3/5/2018     Published
For Information, Contact:
Technology Commercialization
University of South Carolina
Anindya Chanda
Jamie Lead
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