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Identification of fungi responsible for ochratoxin A in grapes and wine

The study managed in South Europe and Israel defined clearly fungi responsible for OTA presence in grapes. They were all belonging to A. section Nigri, with A. carbonarius playing a main role.The inoculum of black aspergilli is always present in vineyards and fungi can be isolated from bunches starting from the early stages of the berries development even if their incidence is relevant from early veraison.OTA is a problem that originates in the vineyard. Damaged berries, by abiotic and/or biotic causes, are a favourable substrate; in fact, the efficiency of black aspergilli in producing OTA increases when wounds favour grape invasion. OTA is normally detected in symptomless bunches, but mouldy berries are associated with higher toxin levels. The period between early veraison and harvesting can be considered as crucial and factors able to influence fungal growth and OTA synthesis, in particular meteorological conditions, need to be monitored carefully during this time. Data obtained during the field sampling were a very good base for further studies and data analysis mainly finalised to the development of a Decision Support System (DSS) to minimise OTA content in grapes.

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