Isolation and Characterization of Fusarium Species and Fumonisins Contamination in Maize from Lower Eastern and Rift Valley Regions of Kenya

  • Peter Koskei School of Public Health, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology
  • Simon Karanja School of Public Health, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology
  • Olga Mashedi Mycology Laboratory, Kenya Medical Research Institute
  • Matsuzawa Tetsuhiro Siebold Campus, University of Nagasaki, Japan
  • Gonoi Tohru Medical Mycology Research Center, Chiba University, Japan
  • Yaguchi Takashi Medical Mycology Research Center, Chiba University, Japan
  • Christine Bii Mycology Laboratory, Kenya Medical Research Institute
Keywords: Fumonisin; Fusarium; Maize; Contamination; health hazards


Maize serves as a staple food in many Sub-Sahara African (SSA) Countries. It is mostly susceptible to mycotoxins including aflatoxin and fumonisin contamination. Fumonisins are produced by the Fusarium species, predominantly Fusarium verticillioides. Fumonisins’ health hazards are documented in many parts of the world. However, few studies exist on fumonisin contamination in maize locally. The presence of Fusarium species and the associated fumonisin contamination of maize grown in Rift Valley and Lower Eastern regions of Kenya were assessed. Maize samples were collected from randomly selected households in three Counties from each of the two regions. Isolation and characterization of Fusarium species was done using Daniel et al., (2011) protocol. Envrologix Quick Tox Kit was used to quantify fumonisin levels. Aspergillus species was the most prevalent fungi species isolated (50.3%) followed by Fusarium species (39.3%) with F. verticillioides accounting for 80.8% of all Fusarium spp. Of the 200 samples analyzed, 133 (65.5%) had fumonisin levels below the level of detection (< 0.1 ppm), 63 (31.5%) had fumonisin level of between 0.1 ppm- 4.0 ppm and 4 (2.0%) sample had fumonisin levels of more than 4.0 ppm. Lower Eastern Region had higher proportion of samples with detectable fumonisin levels compared to Rift Valley Region (55.4% vs 11.1%). In conclusion Fusarium verticillioides commonly associated with fumonisin contamination of maize was a common fungus isolated in the study regions. It also showed that some of the maize samples consumed by the respondents have fumonisin levels that are above the internationally accepted levels. These results suggest that people are likely to be exposed to fumonisins that has been associated with adverse health hazards.


Adejumo, T., Hettwer, U., & Karlovsky, P. (2007). Survey of maize from south-western Nigeria for zearalenone, α-and β-zearalenols, fumonisin B1 and enniatins produced by Fusarium species. J Food Additives Contaminants, 24(9), 993-1000.

Aguín, O., Cao, A., Pintos, C., Santiago, R., Mansilla, P., & Butrón, A. (2014). Occurrence of F usarium species in maize kernels grown in northwestern S pain. J Plant Pathology, 63(4), 946-951.

Atukwase, A., Kaaya, A. N., & Muyanja, C. (2012). Dynamics of Fusarium and fumonisins in maize during storage–a case of the traditional storage structures commonly used in Uganda. J Food control, 26(1), 200-205.

Bankole, S., & Mabekoje, O. (2004). Occurrence of aflatoxins and fumonisins in preharvest maize from south-western Nigeria. J Food Additives Contaminants, 21(3), 251-255.

Bryła, M., Roszko, M., Szymczyk, K., Jędrzejczak, R., Obiedziński, M. W., & Sękul, J. (2013). Fumonisins in plant-origin food and fodder–a review. J Food Additives Contaminants: Part A, 30(9), 1626-1640.

Chilaka, C. A., De Kock, S., Phoku, J. Z., Mwanza, M., Egbuta, M. A., & Dutton, M. F. (2012). Fungal and mycotoxin contamination of South African commercial maize. J. Food Agric. Environ, 10(2), 296-303.

Chu, F. S., & Li, G. Y. (1994). Simultaneous occurrence of fumonisin B1 and other mycotoxins in moldy corn collected from the People's Republic of China in regions with high incidences of esophageal cancer. J Applied Environmental Microbiology, 60(3), 847-852.

Covarelli, L., Stifano, S., Beccari, G., Raggi, L., Lattanzio, V. M. T., & Albertini, E. (2012). Characterization of Fusarium verticillioides strains isolated from maize in Italy: Fumonisin production, pathogenicity and genetic variability. J Food microbiology, 31(1), 17-24.

Czembor, E., Stępień, Ł., & Waśkiewicz, A. (2015). Effect of environmental factors on Fusarium species and associated mycotoxins in maize grain grown in Poland. PloS one, 10(7), e0133644.

Daniel, J. H., Lewis, L. W., Redwood, Y. A., Kieszak, S., Breiman, R. F., Flanders, W. D., . . . Ogana, G. (2011). Comprehensive assessment of maize aflatoxin levels in Eastern Kenya, 2005–2007. Environmental Health Perspectives, 119(12), 1794.

de Oliveira Rocha, L., Reis, G. M., Da Silva, V. N., Braghini, R., Teixeira, M. M. G., & Corrêa, B. (2011). Molecular characterization and fumonisin production by Fusarium verticillioides isolated from corn grains of different geographic origins in Brazil. J International journal of food microbiology, 145(1), 9-21.

European Commission. (2007). Commission Regulation (EC) No 1126/2007 of 28 September 2007 amending Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 setting maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs as regards Fusarium toxins in maize and maize products. Off J Eur Union, 255, 14-17.

Food and Agriculture Organization/Worl Health Organization (FAO/WHO). (2002). Evaluation of certain mycotoxins in food: fifty-sixth report of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (Vol. 56): World Health Organization.

Ferrigo, D., Raiola, A., & Causin, R. (2016). Fusarium toxins in cereals: occurrence, legislation, factors promoting the appearance and their management. J Molecules, 21(5), 627.
Haschek, W. M., Gumprecht, L. A., Smith, G., Tumbleson, M. E., & Constable, P. D. (2001). Fumonisin toxicosis in swine: an overview of porcine pulmonary edema and current perspectives. Environmental Health Perspectives, 109(suppl 2), 251-257.

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). (2002). Some traditional herbal medicines, some mycotoxins, naphthalene and styrene: World Health Organization.

Kedera, C., Ochor, T., Ochieng, J., & Kamidi, R. (1994). Maize ear rot incidence in western Kenya. J Int. J. Pest Manag, 40, 117-120.

Kedera, C., Plattner, R., & Desjardins, A. (1999). Incidence of Fusarium spp. and levels of fumonisin B1 in maize in western Kenya. J Applied Environmental Microbiology, 65(1), 41-44.

Kimanya, M. E., De Meulenaer, B., Tiisekwa, B., Ndomondo-Sigonda, M., Devlieghere, F., Van Camp, J., & Kolsteren, P. (2008). Co-occurrence of fumonisins with aflatoxins in home-stored maize for human consumption in rural villages of Tanzania. J Food Additives Contaminants, 25(11), 1353-1364.

Kirui, M. C., Alakonya, A. E., Talam, K. K., Tohru, G., & Bii, C. C. (2014). Total aflatoxin, fumonisin and deoxynivalenol contamination of busaa in Bomet county, Kenya. J African Journal of Biotechnology, 13(26).

Koskei, P., Bii, C., Musotsi, P., & Karanja, S. (2020). Presence of Fusarium Species and Fumonisin Contamination of Maize in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Systematic Review. African Journal of Education, Science and Technology, 5(4), 132-146.

Kpodo, K., Thrane, U., & Hald, B. (2000). Fusaria and fumonisins in maize from Ghana and their co-occurrence with aflatoxins. J International journal of food microbiology, 61(2-3), 147-157.

Logrieco, A., Mule, G., Moretti, A., & Bottalico, A. (2002). Toxigenic Fusarium species and mycotoxins associated with maize ear rot in Europe. In Mycotoxins in plant disease (pp. 597-609): Springer.

MacDonald, M., & Chapman, R. (1997). The incidence of Fusarium moniliforme on maize from Central America, Africa and Asia during 1992–1995. J Plant Pathology, 46(1), 112-125.

Magoha, H., De Meulenaer, B., Kimanya, M., Hipolite, D., Lachat, C., & Kolsteren, P. (2014). Fumonisin B1 contamination in breast milk and its exposure in infants under 6 months of age in Rombo, Northern Tanzania. J Food chemical toxicology, 74, 112-116.

Marasas, W. F., Kriek, N. P., Fincham, J. E., & Van Rensburg, S. J. (1984). Primary liver cancer and oesophageal basal cell hyperplasia in rats caused by Fusarium moniliforme. J International Journal of Cancer, 34(3), 383-387.

Marasas, W. F., Riley, R. T., Hendricks, K. A., Stevens, V. L., Sadler, T. W., Gelineau-van Waes, J., . . . Gelderblom, W. C. (2004). Fumonisins disrupt sphingolipid metabolism, folate transport, and neural tube development in embryo culture and in vivo: a potential risk factor for human neural tube defects among populations consuming fumonisin-contaminated maize. J The Journal of nutrition, 134(4), 711-716.

Miller, J. D. (2008). Mycotoxins in small grains and maize: old problems, new challenges. J Food Additives Contaminants, 25(2), 219-230.

Missmer, S. A., Suarez, L., Felkner, M., Wang, E., Merrill Jr, A. H., Rothman, K. J., & Hendricks, K. A. (2005). Exposure to fumonisins and the occurrence of neural tube defects along the Texas–Mexico border. J Environmental health perspectives, 114(2), 237-241.

Mutiga, S., Hoffmann, V., Harvey, J., Milgroom, M., & Nelson, R. J. P. (2015). Assessment of aflatoxin and fumonisin contamination of maize in western Kenya. J Phytopathology, 105(9), 1250-1261.

Phoku, J., Dutton, M., Njobeh, P., Mwanza, M., Egbuta, M., & Chilaka, C. J. E. F. R. (2012). Fusarium infection of maize and maize-based products and exposure of a rural population to fumonisin B1 in Limpopo Province, South Africa. J European Food Research, 29(11), 1743-1751.

Rahjoo, V., Zad, J., Javan-Nikkhah, M., Gohari, A. M., Okhovvat, S., Bihamta, M., . . . Klemsdal, S. (2008). Morphological and molecular identification of Fusarium isolated from maize ears in Iran. J Journal of Plant Pathology, 463-468.

Santiago, R., Cao, A., & Butrón, A. (2015). Genetic factors involved in fumonisin accumulation in maize kernels and their implications in maize agronomic management and breeding. Toxins, 7(8), 3267-3296.

Shala-Mayrhofer, V., Varga, E., Marjakaj, R., Berthiller, F., Musolli, A., Berisha, D., . . . Lemmens, M. (2013). Investigations on Fusarium spp. and their mycotoxins causing Fusarium ear rot of maize in Kosovo. J Food Additives Contaminants: Part B, 6(4), 237-243.

Shephard, G. S., Burger, H.-M., Gambacorta, L., Krska, R., Powers, S. P., Rheeder, J. P., . . . Warth, B. J. J. o. a. (2013). Mycological analysis and multimycotoxins in maize from rural subsistence farmers in the former Transkei, South Africa. J Journal of agricultural food chemistry, 61(34), 8232-8240.

Shirima, C. P., Kimanya, M. E., Routledge, M. N., Srey, C., Kinabo, J. L., Humpf, H.-U., . . . Gong, Y. Y. (2014). A prospective study of growth and biomarkers of exposure to aflatoxin and fumonisin during early childhood in Tanzania. J Environmental health perspectives, 123(2), 173-178.

Soriano, J., & Dragacci, S. (2004). Occurrence of fumonisins in foods. J Food Research International, 37(10), 985-1000.

Standard, C. (2015). Standard 193–1995. Codex general Standard for Contaminants Toxins in Food Feed. Retrieved from: http://www. codexalimentarius. net/download/standards/17/CXS_193e. pdf

Stumpf, R., Santos, J. d., Gomes, L. B., Silva, C., Tessmann, D. J., Ferreira, F., . . . Del Ponte, E. M. (2013). Fusarium species and fumonisins associated with maize kernels produced in Rio Grande do Sul State for the 2008/09 and 2009/10 growing seasons. J Brazilian Journal of Microbiology, 44(1), 89-95.

Sydenham, E. W., Thiel, P. G., Marasas, W. F., Shephard, G. S., Van Schalkwyk, D. J., & Koch, K. R. (1990). Natural occurrence of some Fusarium mycotoxins in corn from low and high esophageal cancer prevalence areas of the Transkei, Southern Africa. J Journal of agricultural food chemistry, 38(10), 1900-1903.

Tamburic-Ilincic, L., & Schaafsma, A. (2009). The prevalence of Fusarium spp. colonizing seed corn stalks in southwestern Ontario, Canada. J Canadian journal of plant science, 89(1), 103-106.

Tsehaye, H., Brurberg, M. B., Sundheim, L., Assefa, D., Tronsmo, A., & Tronsmo, A. M. (2017). Natural occurrence of Fusarium species and fumonisin on maize grains in Ethiopia. J European journal of plant pathology, 147(1), 141-155.

Voss, K., Smith, G., & Haschek, W. (2007). Fumonisins: toxicokinetics, mechanism of action and toxicity. J Animal feed science technology, 137(3-4), 299-325.

Worl Health Organization (WHO). ( 2018). . Food Safety Digest. Fumonisins .Department of Food Safety and Zoonoses. (REF. No.: WHO/NHM/FOS/RAM/18.2). Retrieved from
How to Cite
Koskei, P., Karanja, S., Mashedi, O., Tetsuhiro, M., Tohru, G., Takashi, Y., & Bii, C. (2020, July 15). Isolation and Characterization of Fusarium Species and Fumonisins Contamination in Maize from Lower Eastern and Rift Valley Regions of Kenya. African Journal of Education,Science and Technology, 6(1), Pg 19-28. Retrieved from