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More than a dozen Ethiopian students learn aflatoxin testing system

By Allison Floyd

University of Georgia, Peanut & Mycotoxin Innovation Lab

Ethiopian plant pathologist Abdi Hassen and fellow graduate student Solomon Debele recently trained an additional 15 colleagues in a new system to detect aflatoxin contamination in food grains. The students all are masters or PhD students in plant pathology or seed science at Haramaya University in eastern Ethiopia.

Hassen, who is expected to receive a PhD this year, learned the detection technique and acquired equipment through the Peanut & Mycotoxin Innovation Lab while working with scientist Renee Arias at the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Peanut Research Laboratory (USDA NPRL) in Dawson, Ga. There, he analyzed isolates of Aspergillus, a mold that can create aflatoxin in groundnuts, maize and other crops in order to better control the fungi and protect food supplies.

Back home, he is completing two papers based on that research of 270 isolates collected in Ethiopia. Of them, only 19 were found to be non toxigenic.

At the same time, Hassen (assisted by Debele) has held two training sessions in the new mobile aflatoxin detection system, which uses a common electronic tablet and Neogen’s lateral flow test strips to determine the aflatoxin level in peanuts and other crops. Because the system is portable and relatively inexpensive, it allows researchers to complete work without sending samples away for testing.

Debele, also a doctoral student, is researching how to manage aflatoxin contamination with improved varieties.

Published April 26, 2016