Post Harvested Stored Wheat Grain: Fungal Infestation and Nutrition

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The wheat grain production in any country varies from year to year and hence the grains should be stored strategically from years of overproduction for the use in year of under production. Also grain must be stored for several other reasons such as point of production is not the point of consumption and the time of production is not the time of consumption. Grain quality after harvest is influenced by a wide variety of biotic and abiotic factors and has been studied as a stored grain ecosystem. Stored grains can have losses in both quantity and quality. Losses occur when the grain is attacked by microorganisms and other organisms including insects, mites, rodents and birds (Neetirajan et al., 2007). The wheat grains come in association with the fungi from the time of grain maturity and also at the time of storage. Some of these fungi are in intimate association and are present as dormant mycelium under the pericarp or dormant spores on the surface of the kernel. However, there are a number of fungi which are only superficially associated with stored grains. The association of fungi with cereal grains starts from the field itself. Shortly after the grain reaches to maximum size, the lemma and palea protecting it are pushed apart exposing the grain to infection by fungi (Machacek and Greaney, 1938) and their extensive studies has been carried out in the laboratory on these aspects (Sankaran et al., 1975; Sankaran et al., 1976). Poor post harvest management can lead to rapid deterioration in grain quality, severely decreasing the germinability and nutritional value of stored grains. Mould growth in grains may cause deleterious changes in addition to the formation of mycotoxins. Many spoilage fungi cause loss of germination in seed grains, discolouration and darkening of the grains, reduction in protein content, musty odours and changes in fatty acid profiles and other constituents of the grains.

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