Fungal Contamination and Toxin Risk in Fresh Ginseng Samples

Jenn Hoskins
21st May, 2024

Fungal Contamination and Toxin Risk in Fresh Ginseng Samples

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • A study in Geumsan, Korea, found significant fungal contamination in fresh ginseng from 22 stores
  • Fusarium solani and Fusarium oxysporum were the most common fungi, affecting different parts of the ginseng
  • Some fungi isolated from ginseng can produce harmful mycotoxins, but these toxins were not detected in the fresh ginseng samples
Fresh ginseng, a widely valued medicinal root, is often contaminated with harmful fungi during storage and distribution due to soil remnants after harvest. A recent study conducted by the National Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Republic of Korea, investigated the incidence of fungal contamination in fresh ginseng purchased from 22 different stores in Geumsan, Korea[1]. This study found a significant presence of fungal species, particularly Fusarium solani and Fusarium oxysporum, which pose potential risks to both ginseng quality and consumer health. The study revealed that fungal contamination in fresh ginseng samples ranged from 67.4% to 111.5%. Fusarium solani was the most abundant species found in the head (38.5%) and fine root (19.3%) parts of the ginseng, while Fusarium oxysporum was most prevalent in the main root (22.0%). Additionally, the study isolated Aspergillus, Fusarium, and Penicillium species, with a total of 395 isolates, and identified 138 of these through phylogenetic analysis. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based screening identified mycotoxin-producing species among the isolates. Two Penicillium expansum isolates were positive for citrinin and/or patulin production, and five Fusarium oxysporum isolates were positive for fumonisin biosynthesis genes. Notably, one P. expansum isolate produced 738.0 mg/kg of patulin, while another produced 10.4 mg/kg of citrinin and 12.0 mg/kg of patulin on potato dextrose agar (PDA) medium. Among 47 representative F. oxysporum isolates, 43 (91.5%) produced beauvericin (0.1-15.4 mg/kg), and four (8.5%) produced enniatin B and enniatin B1 (0.1-1.8 mg/kg). However, none of these toxins were detected in the fresh ginseng samples. This study builds on previous research that has highlighted the challenges of fungal contamination in ginseng. For instance, earlier studies have shown that traditional methods for detecting seed-borne fungi are limited, and high-throughput sequencing of internal transcribed spacer (ITS) amplicons can provide a more comprehensive understanding of fungal diversity[2]. The presence of Fusarium species in ginseng seeds from various regions of China was also noted, with Fusarium being a primary cause of root rot and other diseases detrimental to ginseng production[2]. Moreover, the development of biocontrol systems has been explored to mitigate the impact of Fusarium species on ginseng. A study identified a bacterial isolate, B2-5, with strong antagonistic activity against Fusarium cf. incarnatum, demonstrating its potential as a microbial agent for biocontrol[3]. This biocontrol approach could be a promising strategy to reduce fungal contamination and improve ginseng yield and quality. The current study's findings underscore the importance of monitoring and controlling fungal contamination in fresh ginseng to ensure product safety and quality. The detection of mycotoxigenic potential in P. expansum and F. oxysporum strains highlights the need for stringent quality control measures during ginseng storage and distribution. Future research could focus on the implementation of biocontrol agents and other innovative methods to combat fungal contamination effectively. By integrating these insights, the study offers a comprehensive understanding of the fungal contamination landscape in fresh ginseng and provides a foundation for developing effective control strategies to safeguard this valuable medicinal root.



Main Study

1) Incidence of fungal contamination in fresh ginseng samples and mycotoxigenic potential of representative fungal isolates.

Published 20th May, 2024

Related Studies

2) Seed-Associated Fungal Diversity and the Molecular Identification of Fusarium with Potential Threat to Ginseng (Panax ginseng) in China.

3) Antagonistic Bacillus species as a biological control of ginseng root rot caused by Fusarium cf. incarnatum.

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