University of Hertfordshire

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Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Food Microbiology
Publication statusIn preparation - 31 Dec 2020

Abstract

Aflatoxin is a carcinogenic mycotoxin produced by Aspergillus fungi. In southern Georgia, USA contamination levels have been linked to high maximum temperatures and low rainfall during the key mid-silk growth stage which occurs in June in the region. A past aflatoxin survey and weather data are used to show this association and the use of weather risk factor variables as developed by Kerry et al. (2017). The risk factors are June maximum temperatures above 30-year normals for the region and June rainfall less than the 30-year normal for the region. Future climate data were estimated for each year (2000-2100) and county in southern Georgia using the RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5 emissions scenarios and weather risk factors calculated. Results showed that the number of counties that exceeded risk factor thresholds for both June maximum temperatures and rainfall increased significantly between 30-year time periods. The percentage of years that counties exceeded thresholds was greater for the RCP 8.5 scenario and the projected data suggested that the spatial distribution of high-risk counties would change over time. The results suggest the need for adjustments in the current distribution of where crops are grown or the employment of adaptation strategies such as planting resistant varieties, improving irrigation and planting earlier. The significantly higher proportions of counties exceeding two weather risk factor thresholds in 2010-2040 compared to 2000-2030 suggests that employing adaptation strategies should start soon.

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ID: 22589812