Aspergillus in grapes: Ecology, biodiversity and genomics

Giancarlo Perrone, Antonia Gallo, Antonia Susca, János Varga

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

8 Citations (Scopus)


Black Aspergilli, which comprises species belonging to Aspergillus section Nigri, are distributed worldwide and have a significant impact on human society due to both their beneficial and harmful effects. Although black Aspergilli are mainly isolated from the soil, they are among the most common fungi causing food spoilage. Recently, several studies focused on this group of organisms due to their role as causative agents of black rot of grapes and subsequently cause ochratoxin A contamination. Herein an overview on the occurrence, biodiversity, ecology, toxigenic potential and genetic aspects relevant to ochratoxin production and molecular detection of black Aspergilli in grapes was presented. Nine different black Aspergillus species have been identified on grapes with different secondary metabolites profiles. These species are often difficult to identify with classical methods. The polyphasic approach used in our studies led to characterisation of 3 new species occurring on grapes: A. brasiliensis, A. ibericus and A. uvarum. However, the main source of ochratoxin A contamination in grapes is Aspergillus carbonarius, followed by A. niger and A. tubingensis. The genetic aspects of ochratoxin production evidenced that a polyketide synthase is likely to be linked to ochratoxin production, in a similar way as in the cases of other mycotoxins such as fumonisins and aflatoxins. Furthermore, it was found that genes in different ochratoxigenic fungi like Penicillium and Aspergillus are dissimilar. Although four genes of ochratoxin biosynthetic pathway have recently been characterised from Penicillium nordicum, no gene proved to be involved in ochratoxin biosynthesis has yet been identified in A. carbonarius. Management of ochratoxin risk in the wine food chain is a challenging task. Various biotic, abiotic, agronomical and environmental factors play an important role in relation to ochratoxin accumulation in grapes and wine. Possible prevention and reduction strategies in the wine food chain have been proposed, and main critical control points and preventive measures to be taken in account in high OTA risk areas is presented.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAspergillus in the Genomic Era
PublisherWageningen Academic Publishers
Number of pages34
ISBN (Print)9789086860654
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2008


  • Biosynthetic genes
  • Black aspergilli
  • Black rot
  • Molecular approach (detection)
  • Ochratoxin A
  • Risk management (CCPs)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)

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    Perrone, G., Gallo, A., Susca, A., & Varga, J. (2008). Aspergillus in grapes: Ecology, biodiversity and genomics. In Aspergillus in the Genomic Era (pp. 179-212). Wageningen Academic Publishers.