A benign fungus that lives inside corn may yield new clues to protecting the crop from contamination by the molds Aspergillus flavus and Fusarium verticillioides, according to Agricultural Research Service microbiologist Don Wicklow.

Wicklow teamed up with University of Iowa scientist Jim Gloer to discover that the fungus endophyte Acremonium zeae produces substances called pyrrocidines that disrupt the Aspergillus and Fusarium molds' ability to infect ripening corn kernels. Wicklow works at ARS' National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Ill.

Read more about the research online at www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/dec04/fungus1204.htm