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Int J Food Microbiol. 2003 Nov 15;88(1):63-8.

Black Aspergillus species as ochratoxin A producers in Portuguese wine grapes.

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Centro de Engenharia Biol├│gica-IBQF, Universidade do Minho, Campus de Gualtar, 4710-057 Braga, Portugal.


To evaluate the incidence of fungi producing ochratoxin A (OA) in Portuguese wine grapes, a survey was conducted in 11 vineyards, from four winemaking regions each with distinct climatic conditions. From setting to the harvesting period, a total of 1,650 berries were sampled by plating methods. Out of 370 aspergilli and 301 Penicillium strains isolated, 14% of the aspergilli were OA-producing strains. None of the penicillia were OA-producing strains. The black aspergilli were predominant (90%). All Aspergillus strains were tested in vitro for OA production and all were preserved in the Micoteca da Universidade do Minho (MUM) culture collection. Most of the Aspergillus carbonarius (97%) and 4% of the Aspergillus niger aggregate strains were OA producers. Almost all ochratoxigenic strains were isolated at harvest time, mainly in the regions with a Mediterranean climate. In the vineyards sampled, the percentage of colonized berries with ochratoxigenic strains was up to 38%. The vineyards from the region with Atlantic influences, with high rainfall, exhibited the lowest occurrence of Aspergillus and ochratoxigenic strains, 0% to 10% and 0% to 2% colonized berries, respectively. Data obtained here supports the hypothesis that A. carbonarius and occasionally A. niger, are the main producers of OA in grapes. In this study, the highest incidence of these fungi occurred in vineyards with a Mediterranean climate.

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