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Project ID: QLK1-CT-2002-02388
Finanziato nell'ambito di: FP5-LIFE QUALITY
Paese: France

Dissemination of histamine producing bacteria in wine

Histamine is the most frequently biogenic amine (BA) involved in food intoxications. It is usually present at a low concentration in wine, but its toxic effect is strengthened by the presence of alcohol and others BA of wine. Although there is no rule, some countries recommended upper limits of histamine ranging from 2 to 10 mg per litre.

Histamine is produced by lactic acid bacteria (LAB) containing a histidine decarboxylase and the other enzymes of the histamine-producing pathway. This pathway is present in LAB of diverse species, but only in some strains in each species. It was detected in a few strains of the species Oenococcus oeni, which is required for the manufacture of wines.

A method based on real time quantitative PCR has been developed to detect and quantify the population of histamine-producing LAB present in wine. We have used this method to determine the populations of histamine-producing LAB in diverse wines of the region of Bordeaux.

A total of 264 wines were collected in wineries at the end of the malolactic fermentation during the production of the vintage 2005. Analyses indicated that 98% of the wines contained populations of histamine-producing bacteria ranging from 1 to 5.10e6 cells per millilitre. Only 2% of the wines were apparently devoid of histamine-producers.

The concentrations of histamine were determined in some of the wines. It was found that significant concentrations of histamine (above 2mg/l) were present when the population of histamine-producing LAB was above 1000 cells per ml. This level was reached or exceeded in 72% of the analysed wines.

The results were plotted on a map of Bordeaux’s area to determine if there was a correlation between the measured populations of histamine producing LAB and the geographical origin of the wines. This map suggests that the population of histamine-producing bacteria can be more or less important from place to place.

However some places contained wines with highly variable populations of histamine-producing bacteria. We concluded that wines of some places could actually be easily spoiled by histamine-producing LAB but that parameters unrelated to the geography were also important for determining the final levels of histamine-producing LAB. Differences of wine composition and winemaking practices could be involved.

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