Morphological and Molecular Characterization of Ochratoxin A Producing Black Aspergilli from Grape Pomace

Bernice Karlton-Senaye, Jianmei Yu, Leonard Williams


Grape pomace (GP), a winery by-product is increasingly being explored as food ingredients. Ochratoxin A (OTA), a natural toxigenic metabolite frequently found in wine and its by-products. Black Aspergilli are mainly responsible for OTA build-up and contamination of grapes and winery by-products. The fungal population in GP of five grape cultivars were enumerated and characterized. Fungal population ranged from 4.27±0.05 to 5.35±0.04 Log CFU/mL with GP from Chardonnay being the most contaminated. Aspergillus niger (81.1%) was found to be the major source of contamination and most frequently isolated fungal species. Other fungal isolates were A. carbonarius (13.51%) and A fumigatus (5.39%). Fungal contamination of GP correlated with the type of grape cultivars used for the pomace. Fourteen identified mold isolates were confirmed by PCR using primer pairs ITS1/NIG, ITS1/CAR and ITS1/FUM. Random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analysis with eight primers OPC-04, OPC-06, OPC-08, OPC-10, OPC-11, OPC-12, OPC-13 and OPC-14 revealed similarity in band patterns between the isolates and the control. Clustering of banding patterns generated from amplification with primer OPC-12 using Pearson’s coefficient detected similarity at 99.10%, 97.60%, 86.30% and 99.40%, 99.10%, 87.60%, 78.50% among Aspergillus niger and Aspergillus carbonarious strains, respectively, confirming the identification of potential ochratoxigenic black Aspergillus strains in the GP. The findings from this study suggest that GP obtained from some grape cultivars could be unsafe as food ingredients due to contamination by ochratoxigenic-producing molds, which is an indicative factor for the presence of ochratoxin A and other mycotoxins.


Aspergillus carbonarius, Aspergillus niger, internal transcription spacer (ITS), RAPD-PCR, ochratoxin A (OTA), grape pomace (GP), contamination

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Journal of Food Research   ISSN 1927-0887(Print)   ISSN 1927-0895(Online)

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