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Cyanogen and mycotoxin reduction for cassava (Manihot Esculenta Crantz) cultivated soil
The management of agricultural soil and its sustainable use, namely productivity, is paramount to the agricultural industry worldwide. Large-scale agricultural product producers and scientists emphasise using environmentally benign methods to increase agricultural production such as taking a green chemistry approach to agricultural activities and/or using cultivation techniques for the bio-augmentation of agricultural soil. Some of these agricultural products, such as cassava (Manihot esculenta), produce cyanogens which promote the infestation of a cyanogen-resistant microbial species known to produce mycotoxins during decomposition. Although cyanogens and mycotoxins are important components in the functioning of the earth system and agricultural soil, their cumulative effects can result in reduced soil productivity, hence degradation. Furthermore, the presence of mycotoxins in the environment and agricultural produce is hazardous to the environment, including the biotic communities in soil and humans. Therefore, an environmentally benign (green chemistry approach) method for the reduction of cyanogens and mycotoxins was proposed for this research study. The method investigated had to be applicable in-situ for the biodegradation of cyanogens and mycotoxins. Their reduction from decomposing cassava in cultivated soil, which can be used on a small and large scale, would mitigate deleterious effects of a less reported, unknown mycotoxins producer (fungal species), Cunninghamella bertholletiae (KT275316), found to be a free cyanide- (CN-) resistant isolate. The C. bertholletiae was isolated from decomposing cassava tubers and silt, subsequent to culturing on potato dextrose agar (PDA) and in an equivalent volume of nutrient broth (NB) containing KCN (4mg/40mL) at 30 °C for 120 hrs. The isolate demonstrated an ability to biodegrade CN- into NH3 and NO3. NH3 and NO3 are nitrogenous by-products produced when young cassava plants are cultivated in a controlled environment, with 80% of the initial CN- concentration being efficiently degraded to NH3/NO3 at a conversion rate of 77.5% and 72.5% (fungus from silt and cassava), respectively, within 120 hrs. From this research, it was observed that Sub-Saharan Africa is the largest contributor to the CN- load into the environment; from cassava cultivation as per FAO data. The quantity of CN- released was estimated at 0.025x10-3 to 6.71 ppq, with further increases of 60.5% being projected to be released into the environment by 2024. As such, it was hypothetically assumed that numerous species in cassava-cultivated soil become CN- resistant as they are exposed to CN- from decomposing cassava, becoming pathogenic thus antigonistic towards other biota in cassava-cultivated soil. Consequently, the pathogenicity of the isolate was investigated against organisms (n = 12) from cassava-cultivated soil. The isolate demonstrated inhibitory pathogenic activity against some soil bacterial communities such as Oligella ureolytica, Acinetobacter sp., Pseudomonas luteola and Sphingomonas paucimobilis. The isolate also demonstrated minor antagonistic effects against Myroides sp., Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, Candida lipolytica, Cryptococcus albidus and Rhodotorula sp.. Further research to identify extracellular metabolites produced by this organism, using a fermentation method was also carried out using a liquid state fermentation technique. 30 mL Erlenmeyer flasks containing 25 mL of NB/KCN (source of CN-) at 37 °C for 168 hrs, with a volume of (5 mL), extracts from the fermentation being filtered, centrifuged, mixed with chloroform for a liquid-liquid extraction procedure subsequent to a nitrogen-facilitated blow-down technique and reconstitution with 100% analytical grade methanol, for LC/MS-TOF 6230 analysis. The analysis revealed that the isolate was able to produce the mycotoxins/secondary metabolites, Fumonisin B1 (FB1) and Deoxynivalenol (DON). Though the isolate (KT275316) demonstrated the ability to biodegrade cyanide as well as produce mycotoxin, an environmentally benign strategy (green chemistry method) with a potential to biodegrade CN-/NH3/NO3/NO2 for the biodegradation of mycotoxins was evaluated, including the identification of biodegradation by-products post-biodegradation treatment. Thus, plant extracts from Nepenthes mirabilis were found to contain enzymes such as carboxylesterase, β-glucosidase, β-glucoronidase and phosphatidyl inositol phospholipase C (identified using both quantitative and qualitative methods). The plant extracts were used with treated samples from the fermentation and were subjected to biodegradation. Thus, resulting in biodegradation by-products such as Heptadecanone Octadecanamide, Octadecenal for FB1 and Tolmetin for DON, respectively. For future research, it is therefore recommended that plant extracts with similar properties to those observed for N. mirabilis extracts (juice) be sought for application of the proposed method.