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Anal Bioanal Chem. 2009 Nov;395(5):1225-42. doi: 10.1007/s00216-009-3081-5. Epub 2009 Sep 16.

Review of secondary metabolites and mycotoxins from the Aspergillus niger group.

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  • 1Center for Microbial Biotechnology, Department of Systems Biology, Technical University of Denmark, Søltofts Plads 221, 2800 Kgs, Lyngby, Denmark.


Filamentous fungi in the Aspergillus section Nigri (the black aspergilli) represent some of the most widespread food and feed contaminants known but they are also some of the most important workhorses used by the biotechnological industry. The Nigri section consists of six commonly found species (excluding A. aculeatus and its close relatives) from which currently 145 different secondary metabolites have been isolated and/or detected. From a human and animal safety point of view, the mycotoxins ochratoxin A (from A. carbonarius and less frequently A. niger) and fumonisin B(2) (from A. niger) are currently the most problematic compounds. Especially in foods and feeds such as coffee, nuts, dried fruits, and grape-based products where fumonisin-producing fusaria are not a problem, fumonisins pose a risk. Moreover, compounds such as malformins, naptho-gamma-pyrones, and bicoumarins (kotanins) call for monitoring in food, feed, and biotechnology products as well as for a better toxicological evaluation, since they are often produced in large amounts by the black aspergilli. For chemical differentiation/identification of the less toxic species the diketopiperazine asperazine can be used as a positive marker since it is consistently produced by A. tubingensis (177 of 177 strains tested) and A. acidus (47 of 47 strains tested) but never by A. niger (140 strains tested). Naptho-gamma-pyrones are the compounds produced in the highest quantities and are produced by all six common species in the group (A. niger 134 of 140; A. tubingensis 169 of 177; A. acidus 44 of 47; A. carbonarius 40 of 40, A. brasiliensis 18 of 18; and A. ibericus three of three).

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