Fungi of coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) - their deteriorative ability, quality stability and the role of the fungus-eating insects.
Studies on the deteriorative ability and quality stability of coconut (Cocos nucifera) and the effect of the fungus-eating insects (Necrobia rufipes, Alphitobius diaperinus, Crematogaster sp. and Tenebrio molitor) were carried out in the Post Graduate Entomology and Plant Pathology Laboratories of the Department of Applied and Environmental Biology and also in Food Science Laboratory of the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt. Results identified Aspergillus niger, Rhizopus stolonifer and Penicillium italicum as the seed-borne fungi of coconut. Frequency of occurrence was 80% for Aspergillus niger and 100% for both Rhizopus stolonifer and Penicillium italicum. On storage stability, heat drying offered significantly higher protection to coconut copra. Percentage consumption of fungal hyphae by the fungus-eating insects varied with Tenebrio molitor consuming 100% of the three aforementioned fungi. A. diaperinus contributed up to 84.1% reduction of A. niger, compared with 80.3% reduction by Necrobia rufipes and 64.2% by Crematogaster sp.