Application of monoclonal antibodies in quantifying fungal growth dynamics during aerobic spoilage of silage

Kate Le Cocq*, Bethany Brown, Christopher J. Hodgson, Jamie McFadzean, Claire A. Horrocks, Michael R.F. Lee, David R. Davies

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Proliferation of filamentous fungi following ingress of oxygen to silage is an important cause of dry matter losses, resulting in significant waste. In addition, the production of mycotoxins by some filamentous fungi poses a risk to animal health through mycotoxicosis. Quantitative assessment of fungal growth in silage, through measurement of ergosterol content, colony-forming units or temperature increase is limiting in representing fungal growth dynamics during aerobic spoilage due to being deficient in either representing fungal biomass or being able to identify specific genera. Here, we conducted a controlled environment aerobic exposure experiment to test the efficacy of a monoclonal antibody-based enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to detect the proliferation of fungal biomass in six silage samples. We compared this to temperature which has been traditionally deployed in such experiments and on-farm to detect aerobic deterioration. In addition, we quantified ergosterol, a second marker of fungal biomass. After 8 days post-aerobic exposure, the ergosterol and ELISA methods indicated an increase in fungal biomass in one of the samples with a temperature increase observed after 16 days. A comparison of the methods with Pearson's correlation coefficient showed a positive association between temperature and ergosterol and both markers of fungal biomass. This work indicates that the technology has potential to be used as an indicator of microbial degradation in preserved forage. Consequently, if it developed as an on-farm technique, this could inform forage management decisions made by farmers, with the goal of decreasing dry matter losses, improving resource and nutrient efficiency and reducing risks to animal health.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalMicrobial biotechnology
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2020


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