Mycotoxin production and evolutionary relationships among species of Aspergillus section Clavati.
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Aspergillusclavatus is a commonly encountered fungus in the environment, producing a number of mycotoxins including patulin, kojic acid, cytochalasins and tremorgenic mycotoxins. A. clavatus belongs to Aspergillus section Clavati together with six other species, all of which possess clavate-shaped vesicles. Patulin production was analysed by thin layer chromatography and high performance liquid chromatography, while a primer pair developed for the detection of an iso-epoxydon dehydrogenase gene involved in the biosynthesis of patulin in penicillia was used to detect the ability of patulin production in the isolates examined. A good correlation was observed between patulin producing properties, and the presence of an iso-epoxydon dehydrogenase gene fragment among the isolates tested. A. longivesica was found for the first time to produce patulin. Ribotoxin production was also examined using a PCR-based approach. Ribotoxins were detected for the first time in an A. pallidus and a Hemicarpenteles acanthosporus isolate. A phylogenetic analysis of intergenic transcribed spacer sequence data indicated that most isolates belong to two main clades that have also been identified earlier based on 26 S rDNA sequence data. A. pallidus isolates clustered together with A. clavatus strains. Although A. clavatus isolates produced highly homogeneous random amplified polymorphic DNA profiles, phylogenetic analysis of these data let us cluster A. clavatus isolates into distinct clades. Correlations were not observed between either patulin or ribotoxin production, and the taxonomic position of the isolates tested, indicating that patulin and ribotoxin producing abilities were lost several times during evolution of Aspergillus section Clavati. Although patulin was earlier found to inhibit mycovirus replication, one of the mycovirus carrying isolates also produced patulin, and both carried the iso-epoxydon dehydrogenase gene.
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