Mycotoxin Research

, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 107–116 | Cite as

Monitoring of ochratoxin A and ochratoxin-producing fungi in traditional salami manufactured in Northern Italy

  • C. MerlaEmail author
  • G. Andreoli
  • C. Garino
  • N. Vicari
  • G. Tosi
  • M. L. Guglielminetti
  • A. Moretti
  • A. Biancardi
  • M. Arlorio
  • M. Fabbi
Original Article


Fungi have a crucial role in the correct maturation of salami, but special attention should be addressed to the production of the nephrotoxic, immunotoxic, and carcinogenic mycotoxin ochratoxin A (OTA). In a monitoring study conducted in Northern Italy, OTA was detected by liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry in 13 out 133 samples of traditional salami (9.8% of the total count). Mycological analysis of these samples yielded 247 fungal isolates which were identified to species level. The most frequent species were Penicillium nalgiovense, P. solitum, and P. chrysogenum. P. nordicum, an OTA-producing species commonly found in proteinaceous food, was not found in these samples. Three isolates were found to be Aspergillus westerdijkiae, an OTA-producing species. In order to check the results of the microbiological identification, 19 different strains of Aspergillus and 94 of Penicillium were tested for the presence of a sequence common to OTA-producing fungi by real-time PCR. None of the studied isolates, including the three A. westerdijkiae, possessed the otanpsPN target which is common to OTA-producing strains. Two out of three isolates of the A. westerdijkiae were also PCR-negative for the otanpsPN gene and did not produce OTA in culture. Conversely, this target sequence was amplified from the DNA purified from 14 salami casings including three casings harboring A. westerdijkiae. The amplification of sequences specific for OTA-producing strains performed on total genomic DNA extracted directly from salami casings provided a more suitable approach than PCR analysis of isolates from salami for the OTA-related otanpsPN gene to evaluate the risk of OTA contamination.


Salami Aspergillus Penicillium Ochratoxin A otanpsPN gene Mycotoxin 



We thank Luisa Gennari and Paola Scotto di Fasano for technical assistance. This work was supported by the Italian Ministry of Health (research grant number: IZSLER PRC 2013-021).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Society for Mycotoxin Research and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Lombardia e dell’Emilia Romagna “B. Ubertini”Sezione Diagnostica di PaviaPaviaItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Scienze del Farmaco & Drug and Food Biotechnology (DFB) CenterUniversità del Piemonte Orientale “A. Avogadro”NovaraItaly
  3. 3.Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Lombardia e dell’Emilia Romagna “B. Ubertini”Sezione Diagnostica di ForlìForlìItaly
  4. 4.Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra e dell’AmbienteUniversità di Pavia – Laboratorio di MicologiaPaviaItaly
  5. 5.Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Lombardia e dell’Emilia Romagna “B. Ubertini”Laboratorio Micotossine e TossicologiaBresciaItaly

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