Molecular diversity of agriculturally important Aspergillus species

János Varga, Ákos Juhász, Ferenc Kevei, Zofia Kozakiewicz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

58 Citations (Scopus)


Although Aspergillus species are not usually considered as serious plant pathogens, Aspergilli are frequently encountered in plant products. The most important consequence of their presence is mycotoxin contamination. The main mycotoxins produced by Aspergilli are the aflatoxins, ochratoxin A and patulin, which are produced by a variety of Aspergillus species in different plant commodities. Phylogenetic analysis of sequences of the ribosomal RNA gene cluster is useful for clarifying taxonomic relationships among toxigenic Aspergilli causing pre- and postharvest contamination of agricultural products. Molecular data has enabled us to clarify the taxonomy of black Aspergilli, A. flavus and its relatives, and sections Circumdati and Clavati, which include ochratoxin and patulin-producing species. Phylogenetically unrelated species were found to produce the same mycotoxins, indicating that mycotoxin-producing abilities of the isolates have been lost (or gained) several times during the evolution of the genus. The data also indicate that biosynthetic gene-based probes are necessary for molecular detection of these mycotoxin-producing organisms. The organisation of the biosynthetic genes of patulin and ochratoxins is unknown, although experiments are in progress in several laboratories to clarify the genetic background of biosynthesis of these mycotoxins. Identification of biosynthetic genes responsible for mycotoxin production is essential for clarifying the evolution of mycotoxin biosynthesis in Aspergilli, and to develop specific gene probes for the detection of mycotoxin-producing Aspergilli in agricultural products.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)627-640
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Plant Pathology
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2004


  • Aflatoxin
  • Breeding
  • Ochratoxin
  • Patulin
  • Phylogenetics
  • Taxonomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science
  • Horticulture

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