Cold plasma: an alternative to reduce the viability of Aspergillus flavus conidia in lentil beans

Marlenne Gómez-Ramírez, Lizbeth Soto-Ruvalcaba, Martín Nieto-Pérez, Norma G. Rojas-Avelizapa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


© 2019 Mexican Journal of Biotechnology. All rights reserved. Microbiological food safety is a major issue and the genus Aspergillus is of great interest given the frequency of its toxin contamination in grains. This paper describes the use of cold plasma generated with argon and a mixture of argon-nitrogen as a method of sanitizing lentil beans. Lentil beans were sanitized and exposed to Aspergillus flavus conidia then four different experimental sets were prepared, using only argon and a mixture of argon-nitrogen to generate plasma at nitrogen flow rates of 1.2, 0.81 and 0.32 L/min. Each lentil bean was exposed for 5, 10 and 15 min to plasma. Assays were performed in triplicate. Beans not exposed to plasma were used as controls. All plasma treatments caused a lethal effect on A. flavus conidia within exposure periods of 5 to 15 min. The application of argon plasma showed a log10 reduction of 0.81 (84%) after 15 min. The mixture of argon: nitrogen at 0.81 and 0.32 L/min had a higher lethal effect than argon alone. Although lentil beans sterilization was not completely achieved, an important log10 reduction of 1.43 (96.44 %) and 5.53 (99.99 %) of A. flavus conidia was obtained after 15 min of exposure to the plasma generated by argon-nitrogen mixture using nitrogen at flow rates of 0.81 and 0.32 L/min, respectively. Nitrogen flow rate of 0.32 L/min showed a reduction above 3.0 logarithmic units, so this treatment showed a fungicidal activity. The lowest reduction, 0.3 logarithmic units (50.3 %) was observed at a nitrogen flow rate of 1.2 L/min. Additionally, as a consequence of plasma exposure, conidia of A. flavus showed a delay in germination process and also conidia formation was affected. It was concluded that cold plasma could be used as an alternative to sanitize grains and avoid contamination by microorganisms, which cause grain deterioration and affect its nutritional properties.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)21-32
Number of pages12
JournalMexican Journal of Biotechnology
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2019


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