A polyphasic approach to the identification of ochratoxin A-producing black Aspergillus isolates from vineyards in Sicily.

International journal of food microbiology

PubMedID: 18687497

Oliveri C, Torta L, Catara V. A polyphasic approach to the identification of ochratoxin A-producing black Aspergillus isolates from vineyards in Sicily. Int J Food Microbiol. 2008;127(1-2):147-54.
Aspergillus strains belonging to section Nigri isolated during a two year survey in eight Sicilian vineyards located on the slopes of Mount Etna (Sicily, Italy) were analysed analyzed in order to characterize species responsible for ochratoxin A (OTA) contamination of grapes. The polyphasic approach permitted analysis of biodiversity of Aspergillus isolates in relation to their morphology, ochratoxigenicity and genetic variability. We assessed OTA production by A. carbonarius, A. niger, A. tubingensis and A. japonicus using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. A. carbonarius isolates were the strongest OTA producers. A subset of 66 representative strains was selected for further DNA-based characterization. PCR assays using species-specific primers discriminated between A. niger, A. carbonarius and A. japonicus on the basis of the target sequences for each species. The PCR-based methods matched morphological characterization in identifying all the black aspergilli (BA) isolates tested, whereas RFLP analysis with RsaI of isolates positive to PCRs with A. niger specific primers identified three A. tubingensis isolates. The identification of thirteen isolates was further confirmed by ITS analysis. By this method, each of the isolates was identified and assigned to an Aspergillus species. The fAFLP analysis of 40 isolates highlighted the power of this technique to discriminate different species and single strains, to verify the presence of mixed populations in the same vineyard, through homogeneous species clusters. No correlation was observed between the clusters and OTA production level or origin.