Mycotoxigenic fungi and relative mycotoxins contamination were monitored in Italian paddy rice samples both in field during the growing season and the first five months of storage. Three experimental fields, nine rice varieties and three sowing densities were considered; then, different lots of paddy rice were stored in warehouses at different temperature regimes. Fusarium spp. and Aspergillus spp. were found to be the fungi most likely to produce mycotoxins throughout the growing season. In particular, A. flavus and A. niger were found only rarely both in field and in post-harvest, while A. versicolor was always present although in low concentrations. Penicillium spp. strains were isolated sporadically and were found to be irrelevant in Italian rice fungal contamination. Sterigmatocystin (STC) was the main mycotoxin found in Italian rice, while aflatoxin (AFB₁), deoxynivalenol (DON) and ochratoxin A (OTA) were rarely detected. Contamination generally increased from post-flowering to ripening; considering rice varieties, significant differences (p ≤ 0.01) were found in fungal contamination and STC production; no differences were observed between sowing densities. During storage, an increase in STC content was observed in higher temperature regimes, while all the other considered mycotoxins remained unchanged. These results indicated that contamination by STC, an emerging mycotoxin not legislatively regulated by the European Union, can be relevant in rice.
- Growing season