Fungi responsible for ochratoxin A (OTA) production have been studied especially on cereals, where Penicillium verrucosum and Aspergillus ochraceus are to be considered the main producers. Until 1998, these fungi were also believed to be responsible for the production of the toxin in grape, but OTA-producing A. carbonarius and A. niger were identified in dried vine fruits in 1999. Further studies pointed out that mycoflora potentially responsible for the presence of OTA in grapes are present in the field. Aspergilli are dominant to Penicillia, and among these Aspergilli section Nigri. A. carbonarius probably plays an important role because of the high percentage of positive strains and the amount of OTA produced. Aspergilli section Nigri are present on grape bunches early in the season and their frequency increases during later growth stages. At early veraison and ripening, the incidence of colonised berries is more related to the year than to the growth stage, but not to visible symptoms, since it is normal to isolate fungi from intact berries. Differences in ochratoxin content of berries have been detected between years, when the same vineyards, managed in the same way, showed high levels (1999) or the absence (2000) of the toxin. The results suggest that meteorological differences between years and grape-growing areas are responsible for differences in OTA levels, but the data are at present insufficient to draw firm conclusions.
- Aspergillus section Nigri
- cropping system