A microarray analysis was performed to study the effect of varying combinations of water activity and temperature on the activation of aflatoxin biosynthesis genes in Aspergillus flavus grown on YES medium. Generally A. flavus showed expression of the aflatoxin biosynthetic genes at all parameter combinations tested. Certain combinations of aw and temperature, especially combinations which imposed stress on the fungus resulted in a significant reduction of the growth rate. At these conditions induction of the whole aflatoxin biosynthesis gene cluster occurred, however the produced aflatoxin B1 was low. At all other combinations (25 °C/0.95 and 0.99; 30 °C/0.95 and 0.99; 35 °C/0.95 and 0.99) a reduced basal level of cluster gene expression occurred. At these combinations a high growth rate was obtained as well as high aflatoxin production. When single genes were compared, two groups with different expression profiles in relation to water activity/temperature combinations occurred. These two groups were co-ordinately localized within the aflatoxin gene cluster. The ratio of aflR/aflJ expression was correlated with increased aflatoxin biosynthesis
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