keywords: Deterioration, fungal species, frequency of occurrence, fruits, Mycotoxin
Fruits are nutritionally rich and hence support the growth of spoilage microorganisms such as fungi. Hence, this study was carried out to identify fungal species associated with spoilt fruits sold in Wukari metropolis, Taraba State. Thirty-six (36) fruits with evidence of deterioration were selected for the study including Orange, Water melon, Apple, Pineapple, Tomatoes, Mango, Banana, Pawpaw, and Avocado pea. Deteriorated fruit samples were cultured for fungal isolation on potato dextrose agar supplemented with streptomycin (30µg/mL). Fungal identification was done using the Lactophenol cotton blue stain. Pathogenicity test was carried out by inoculating fungal isolates on healthy fruits and observing for evidence of deterioration. Eight (8) fungal deteriogens were identified from spoilt fruits including Aspergillus niger (22.22%), Rhizopus stolonifer (16.67%), Aspergillius flavus (13.89%), Aspergillus fumigatus (2.78%), Fusarium sp. (13.89%), Penicillium sp. (11.11%), Mucor sp. (13.89%), and Alternaria alternata (5.55%). Furthermore, all fungal isolates reproduced deterioration in healthy fruits. The result from the different fruit samples showed that the highest number of fungal deteriogens were isolated from Tomato and Mango with six (6) deteriogens each while the least number of fungal deteriogens (2) were isolated from Pineapple. The Presence of these fungi on edible fruits poses a serious threat to the health of the consumers especially humans and animals because some of these fungi, especially Aspergillus spp. are associated with the production of mycotoxins such as Aflatoxins which are lethal when consumed. Hence, the need for adequate quality control measures to be put in place during harvest, transportation, storage and sales in other to reduce the risk of contamination by these fungi thus reducing economic losses to sellers and also public health.