Peanut Mycotoxin and Innovation Lab

Visiting scientist conducts research on peanut pathogen at UGA Griffin

Posted on
Thursday, August 27, 2015
Maxwell Lamptey with his experiment on solar drying peanuts

Maxwell Lamptey is visiting America, specifically Griffin, Georgia, in the hopes of learning new methods to fight aflatoxin — a carcinogen produced by soil fungus that can grow on peanuts — in his home country of Ghana. Lamptey is participating in a short-term training program, from March to September, supported by the Peanut and Mycotoxin Innovation Lab (PMIL), housed at the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

A senior technical officer studying legumes at the Crops Research Institute, Lamptey has been working on the university’s campus in Griffin, Georgia, alongside food scientist and PMIL collaborator Jinru Chen.

Research is nothing new to Lamptey, but his work normally focuses on ways to increase yields.

“In Ghana, I am involved in conducting a lot of trials, evaluations and cross hybridizations of all kinds of legumes, but mainly cowpeas and groundnuts (peanuts),” he said.

On the UGA Griffin Campus, he is studying the use of solar drying to control aflatoxin contamination in peanuts. He is comparing solar drying to normal drying.

Normal drying involves exposing the peanuts directly to sunlight on the ground or on concrete. Solar drying does not expose the peanuts directly to sunlight or rain. Instead, a dryer captures the heat from the sun and an enclosed structure around the nuts conducts the heat, Lamptey said.

UGA food science student looks to composting to help protect peanut from aflatoxin contamination

Posted on
Thursday, October 27, 2016
Esther Akoto working with composting barrels

For millennia, farmers used compost to return nutrients to depleted soil. Now researchers are searching for a way composting can help battle aflatoxin.

Ghana native Esther Yeboah Akoto, who is currently pursuing her master’s degree in food science and technology at the University of Georgia, is working to help farmers diminish aflatoxin contamination in their soil by composting field waste.

“We know that composting has been around for a very long time. It’s a technique that growers have used for thousands of years,” said Akoto, who is conducting her research in conjunction with U.S. Feed the Future's Peanut Mycotoxin and Innovation Lab at the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

“More recently, we know about aflatoxin and its effect on health. Could composting provide a way to remove aflatoxin-contaminated produce from the food supply?”

Researchers around the world are working to minimize naturally occurring molds that can grow on peanuts, maize and other crops. Those molds diminish the quality of peanut crops and generate mycotoxins such as aflatoxin, a dangerous compound that can cause physical and mental stunting in children, cause cancer and, in high doses, even kill. Obviously, the most effective intervention is to minimize mold growth in the field and in storage, but farmers may never completely get rid of something as ubiquitous as mold.