Determination of fumonisins in maize by HPLC with ultraviolet detection of o-phthaldialdehyde derivatives
Van Der Westhuizen, L.
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Fumonisins are mycotoxins that are produced by various Fusarium species and occur naturally in maize and maize-based foods. Fumonisins are carcinogenic, causing liver cancer in rats, and are associated with oesophageal cancer and neural tube defects in humans. Analytical methods for individual fumonisin analogues in maize rely on reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatographic (HPLC) separation after suitable extraction and clean-up. As fumonisins lack a useful chromophore or fluorophore, HPLC detection is achieved by suitable derivatization and sensitive, specific fluorescence detection. A widely used and validated method involves extract clean-up on strong anion exchange solid phase extraction cartridges and pre-column derivatization with o-phthaldialdehyde (OPA). However, many laboratories requiring infrequent fumonisin analysis are only equipped with HPLC with ultraviolet (UV) detection. A HPLC system equipped with both UV and fluorescence detectors connected in series was used to determine the extent to which UV offers an alternative to fluorescence detection in the above analytical method. Comparison of the detection systems using fumonisin standards indicated that fluorescence is about 20-times more sensitive than UV. Analysis of maize samples with differing fumonisin contamination levels indicated that, at fumonisin B1 levels above 1,000 µg/kg, the two detection systems were comparable and gave repeatabilities equal or less than 10% on six replicate analyses. Although a sensitive fumonisin analysis requires fluorescence detection, UV may offer an alternative in certain circumstances.
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