Fungi Associated With The Spoilage Of Cocoyam (Colocasia Esculenta)

Project and Seminar Material for Microbiology

Project and Seminar Material for Microbiology


Fungi associated with the spoilage of cocoyam (Colocasia esculenta) during storage at ambient temperature (28+20c) was investigated in this study. This was done by cutting the damaged portion of the cocoyam tubers and blend with diluents (water) to have even distribution of the microorganism and ensure ease of plating out. This done with the sample and inoculation was done from the 4th test tube on SDA medium and incubated for three to seven days at the temperature 0f 270c. The isolate with the highest population was Fusarium species, which was found to be 38%, followed by Rhizopus species 25%, Penicillium species 21%, Botryodiplodia species 7.9% While the isolate with the least population was Aspergillus species which was found to be 6.3%. The total colony count of each isolate are; Fusarium species 72 colony, Rhizopus species 47 colony, Pencillium 15 colony, Botryodiplodia species 15 colony, and Aspergillus species is 12 colony. The occurrence of mechanical damage should be reduced by leaving the tubers untrimmed during storage at ambient temperature (28+20c) to control these prevalent moulds which lead to the spoilage of cocoyam.

Table of Contents

  • Title page
  • Certification page
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgement
  • Abstract
  • Table of content

Chapter One

  • 1.0 Introduction

Chapter Two

  • 2.0 Literature Review
  • 2.1 Methods of Storage to Prevent / Control Fungi Associated with the Spoilage of Cocoyam During Storage
  • 2.2 Nutritional Value Of Cocoyam
  • 2.3 Cocoyam for Rural Agro-Industrialization
  • 2.4 Preservation of Cocoyam
  • 2.5 Uses of Cocoyam

Chapter Three

  • 3.0 Materials and Methods
  • 3.1 Source of Sample
  • 3.2 Storage Condition
  • 3.3 Microbial Evaluation of Spoilt Cocoyam Tubers During Storage at Ambient Temperature
  • 3.3.1 Preparation of Culture Medium
  • 3.3.2 Isolation and Identification of Associated Fungi

Chapter Four

  • 4.0 Results

Chapter Five

  • 5.0 Discussion
  • 5.1 Conclusion
  • 5.2 Recommendation
  • References

List of Tables

  • Table 1; Culture and Morphological Characteristics of Isolated Fungal
  • Table 2; Total Colonies of Fungal Isolates Counted on the Culture Plate
  • Table 3; Percentage Occurrence of Isolates

Chapter One


Cocoyam (Colocasia esculenta) is widely cultivate and used for food in Nigeria, Ghana and other countries including China. China and Ghana leading in world production (Onwueme and Charles, 1994).

Although its production has increased from 643000 to 1.7 million tones during the past decade, its contribution to root-crop production increased from only 39-6.8% (Agboola, 1979). In Nigeria, Colocasia species are the most important food and the third most important root/tuber crop after yams and cassava (Onwueme, 1978). Besides critical contribution to the national food security and cash income producing nations, cocoyam are also being considered as source of starch for use in biodegradable film materials and for other industrial and pharmaceuticals purposes because of interesting properties of the amylopectin fraction of starch, which is the principal form of cocoyam starch (Cecil, 1992).

Cocoyams have very short post harvest storage life of a few days to weeks (Gollifer and Boot, 1973, Ugwunwanyi and Obeta, 1997). Differing and often conflicting reports have been made on the post harvest losses of cocoyam. But it bears nothing that post harvest storage life is often short and biodegradative losses are extensive and up to 100% losses are common due to the fungi which associates with the spoilage of cocoyam during storage condition, (Onwueme and Charles, 1994),

However, substantial post harvest losses caused by the fungi associated with the spoilage of cocoyam tubers during storage is attributed to a number of physical, physiological damage arising from harvesting, storage or transportation have often been implicated as some of the predisposing factors to cocoyam spoilage or deterioration (Ogundana et al;1970, Snowdon, 1991). Invasion by pathogens either through natural openings or wounds is considered the most critical factor in cocoyam spoilage (Degras, 1993).

A wide range of micro-organisms (Particularly moulds) have been associated with cocoyam decay, relatively few are implicated as primarily pathogens (Aderiye and Ogundana, 1984). The degree of pathogenicity varies and is highly dependent upon storage conditions. It has been stated that fungi take the lead in the spoilage of cocoyam during storage. (Nwufo and Atu, 1987). Under these storage conditions, the fungi which are liable to attack cocoyam include; Fusarium solani, Botryodiplodia, theobromae, Rhizopus, stolonifer, Aspergillus niger, Sclerotium roltsii, Trichoderma hamatum andPythium species. (Nwufo, 1980,Uwgunwanyi and Obeta, 1996). Another factor also attributed to the spoilage of cocoyam is high respiratory activity. Storage temperature to an optimum of 70C and 85% relative humidity increases the storage time. The crops are usually left in the ground and harvested when need, and there is a limit to how long the crop can be left in the soil since the corms and cormels sprout and produce new growth, which result in the cocoyam losing its good values.

Therefore, it has been suggested that November and March /April are the ideal time for harvesting cocoyam. However, due to the difficulties in storage, cocoyam are usually utilized or consumed fresh shortly after harvest because of these fungi which lead to their spoilage during storage, (Passam, 1982, and Onwueme, 1987). The objective of this study is to investigate the fungi associated with the spoilage of post harvest cocoyam during storage at ambient temperature (28 ± 20C).

Cocoyam leaves are consumed as green or dry vegetables and the stem is either cooked or eaten on its own or together with other dietary staples or pound into flour. The leaves are consumed because they are rich in protein and vitamins while the roots is rich in carbohydrates and minerals, (Duru and Uma, 2002).

Large quantities of carbohydrate-rich solid waste are produced in the course of processing cormels into starch and this constitute a waste disposal problem, (Duru, 2000).

The changing economic, social, political and cultural values of the world have challenged all countries to efficiently use their resources.

In Cameroon, two types of cultivated cocoyam varieties can be differentiated based on the colour of the flesh. The white –flesh cultivar or white cocoyam is the main cultivated variety because of its early maturation (6-(months) and high yield. In addition, the white cocoyam is most preferred in diet because of its excellent taste. The pink-flesh variety or red cocoyam is rarely grown because of its long maturation process (12-16months) Despite its importune, white cocoyam is highly susceptible to cocoyam root with attendant yield losses > 90%. In contrast, fields observations by farmers revealed that the red cocoyam has a certain degree of field tolerance against the cocoyam root rot disease (Tambong, 2000).

Chapter Five


The fungi which associated with the spoilage of cocoyam during storage under ambient temperature condition were found to be moulds. This is in agreement with the result reported in the previous study by (Ugwunwanyi and Obeta, 1996, Nwufo, 1980). In this present study, five genera of moulds were isolated from spoilt damage portion of cocoyam tubers. The five genera isolated are listed in order of frequency of occurrence which are; Fusarium Species, Rhizopus Species, Penicillium Species, Botryodiplodia Species, and Aspergillus Species. The cultural and Morphological characteristics used for the descriptions of the fungi isolated in this present study was described by (Barnett and Hunter, 1992, Samson et al, 1984) as shown in (Table 1).

The isolated moulds with the highest population which caused the spoilage of coco- yam during storage were Fusurium species which has the frequency of 38%, Rhizopus species has 25%, Penicillium Species has 21%, Botrydiplodia Species 7.9%, which Aspergillus Species were found to have the lowest occurrence of 6.3% as observed in (Table 3).

This result indicates that the most prevalent moulds associated with the spoilage of cocoyam during storage at ambient temperature are Fusarium and Rhizopus species followed by Penicillium Species.


In conclusion, the fungi associated with the spoilage of cocoyam during storage under ambient temperature were found to be the following moulds, Furarium species, Rhizopus species, Penicillium species, Botryodiplodia species and Aspergillus species.

It therefore means that cocoyam with wounds or cut are liable to deterioration by fungi when stored at room temperature.

Cocoyam is an important tuber crops, which has so many usefulness to mankind. By putting into consideration, its wide range of uses, domestically and industrially. Its great medicinal use for the treatment of several chronic disease like chronic liver problems, Peptic ulcer and pancreatic diseases have been implicated. To avoid the attack of cocoyam under storage condition by these moulds, the occurrence of mechanical damage should be minimized or reduced by leaving the corms untrimmed during storage. Also, different methods of storage conditions such as traditional, ventilated and refrigerated storage should be used as this will be beneficial to reduced the fungi which lead to their storage rots (Spoilage)


Hence, adequate measure should be taken to avoid inflicting injury to cocoyam before storage.

Also, those with wounds should be separated from those without wounds to avoid contamination.

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