Spotlight on the underdogs-an analysis of underrepresented Alternaria mycotoxins formed depending on varying substrate, time and temperature conditions
Alternaria (A.) is a genus of widespread fungi capable of producing numerous, possibly health-endangering Alternaria toxins (ATs), which are usually not the focus of attention. The formation of ATs depends on the species and complex interactions of various environmental factors and is not fully understood. In this study the influence of temperature (7 °C, 25 °C), substrate (rice, wheat kernels) and incubation time (4, 7, and 14 days) on the production of thirteen ATs and three sulfoconjugated ATs by three different Alternaria isolates from the species groups A. tenuissima and A. infectoria was determined. High-performance liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry was used for quantification. Under nearly all conditions, tenuazonic acid was the most extensively produced toxin. At 25 °C and with increasing incubation time all toxins were formed in high amounts by the two A. tenuissima strains on both substrates with comparable mycotoxin profiles. However, for some of the toxins, stagnation or a decrease in production was observed from day 7 to 14. As opposed to the A. tenuissima strains, the A. infectoria strain only produced low amounts of ATs, but high concentrations of stemphyltoxin III. The results provide an essential insight into the quantitative in vitro AT formation under different environmental conditions, potentially transferable to different field and storage conditions.