Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 30, pp 31263–31272 | Cite as

Efficacy of different citrus essential oils to inhibit the growth and B1 aflatoxin biosynthesis of Aspergillus flavus

  • Cristina Restuccia
  • Gea Oliveri ContiEmail author
  • Pietro Zuccarello
  • Lucia Parafati
  • Antonio Cristaldi
  • Margherita Ferrante
Research Article


Food contamination by aflatoxin B1 (AFB1), produced by mycotoxigenic strains of Aspergillus spp., causes severe medical and economic implications. Essential oils (EOs) are mixtures of eco-friendly natural volatile substances. Their ability to inhibit fungal growth has been investigated, while no data are available about their efficacy in inhibition of AFB1 biosynthesis. This study investigates the efficacy of five different citrus EOs to inhibit the growth and AFB1 synthesis of A. flavus through in vitro tests for a future application in food matrices. AFB1 detection was carried out by LC-ESI-TQD analytical approach. Lemon (Citrus limon (L.) Burm. f.), bergamot (Citrus bergamia Risso), and bitter orange (Citrus aurantium L.) EOs were the most effective causing a 97.88%, 97.04%, and 96.43% reduction in mycelial growth, respectively. Sweet orange and mandarin EOs showed the lowest percentage of mycelial growth reduction. Citrus EOs showed different capacity of AFB1 inhibition (lemon > bitter orange > bergamot > sweet orange > mandarin). Our results showed a dose-dependent antifungal activity of lemon, bitter orange, and bergamot EOs which at 2% (v/v) inhibited both mycelium growth and AFB1 genesis of A. flavus. Our results show that EOs’ use can be a pivotal key to recovery and reuse of citrus fruit wastes and to be used as eco-friendly fungicides for improvement of food safety. The use of EOs obtained at low cost from the residues of citric industry presents an interesting option for improving the profitability of the agriculture.


Citrus Essential oils Aspergillus flavus Growth inhibition Aflatoxin B1 Food contamination 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cristina Restuccia
    • 1
  • Gea Oliveri Conti
    • 2
    Email author
  • Pietro Zuccarello
    • 2
  • Lucia Parafati
    • 1
  • Antonio Cristaldi
    • 2
  • Margherita Ferrante
    • 2
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Agricoltura, Alimentazione e Ambiente (Di3A)University of CataniaCataniaItaly
  2. 2.Environmental and Food Hygiene Laboratories (LIAA), Department of Medical, Surgical Sciences and Advanced Technologies “G.F. Ingrassia”University of CataniaCataniaItaly

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