Growth and toxin production of phomopsin A and ochratoxin A forming fungi under different storage conditions in a pea (Pisum sativum) model system
Phomopsins are mycotoxins mainly infesting lupines, with phomopsin A (PHOA) being the main mycotoxin. PHOA is produced by Diaporthe toxica, formerly assigned as toxigenic Phomopsis leptostromiformis, causing infections in lupine plants and harvested seeds. However, Diaporthe species may also grow on other grain legumes, similar to Aspergillus westerdijkiae as an especially potent ochratoxin A (OTA) producer. Formation of PHOA and OTA was investigated on whole field peas as model system to assess fungal growth and toxin production at adverse storage conditions. Field pea samples were inoculated with the two fungal strains at two water activity (aw) values of 0.94 and 0.98 and three different levels of 30, 50, and 80% relative air humidity.
After 14 days at an aw value of 0.98, the fungi produced 4.49 to 34.3 mg/kg PHOA and 1.44 to 3.35 g/kg OTA, respectively. Strains of D. toxica also tested showed higher PHOA concentrations of 28.3 to 32.4 mg/kg. D. toxica strains did not grow or produce PHOA at an aw values of 0.94, while A. westerdijkiae still showed growth and OTA production.
Elevated water activity has a major impact both on OTA and, even more pronouncedly, on PHOA formation and thus, proper drying and storage of lupins as well as other grain legumes is crucial for product safety.