Penicillium and Aspergillus genera, both including mycotoxin producing species, were reported as associated to cheese and cheese working environment, but never studied in an extensive way in Italian grana cheese (Grana Padano and Parmigiano Reggiano). The aim of this work was to address the identification of Aspergilli and Penicillia associated to grana cheese in order to lay down the basis for risk assessment and safe processing for a high quality production. One hundred and four strains belonging to Aspergillus and Penicillium genera were obtained from cheese crust and from ripening room air (with the latter largely dominant), and identified following a polyphasic approach, strongly required for the identification at the species level. Morphological observation was used along with molecular techniques, RAPDPCR fingerprinting and calmodulin gene sequencing (CaM), the former aimed to limit as much as possible the latter sequencing effort. Seventy four percent of the strains were assigned to Penicillium subgenus Penicillium, section Fasciculata. Main mycotoxin producing species identified were A. flavus, P. crustosum and P. verrucosum, while the dominant species in both air and cheese crust was P. solitum, which has never been so far reported as mycotoxigenic. Results obtained in this study confirmed that mycotoxin contamination is a possible issue to face during grana cheese making.
- Aspergillus, Penicillium, Mycobiota, Mycotoxin, Bioload