Maize moldy and spoilage due to microbial growth is a significant challenge in grain storage. This study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of a zinc oxide nanocomposite, ZnO@mSiO2, prepared in our previous research, in inhibiting mold growth and preserving maize cell quality. The results demonstrated that ZnO@mSiO2 could effectively inhibit the growth of dominant microorganism, Aspergillus flavus, Talaromyces variabilis, Penicillium citrinum and Fusarium graminearum, in maize storage. Aspergillus flavus was selected as the model fungus, ZnO@mSiO2 effectively disrupted fungal hyphae structure, leading to reduced hyphal mass and inhibited spore germination. The inhibitory effect of ZnO@mSiO2 on mold growth was concentration-dependent. However, the ZnO@mSiO2 at an appropriate concentration (not exceeding 3.0 g/kg) preserved the integrity of maize cell membranes and enhancing the antioxidant activity within maize cells. The findings highlight the potential of ZnO@mSiO2 as an effective protectant to inhibit mold...

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