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Functional Characterization of the alb1 Orthologue Gene in the Ochratoxigenic Fungus Aspergillus carbonarius (AC49 strain)

Department of Soil, Plant and Food Sciences, University of Bari Aldo Moro, via Amendola 165/A, 70126 Bari, Italy
Instituto de Agroquímica y Tecnología de Alimentos, IATA-CSIC, Calle Agustín Escardino 7, Paterna, 46980 Valencia, Spain
SELGE Network of Public Research Laboratories, via Amendola 165/A, 70126 Bari, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Toxins 2018, 10(3), 120;
Received: 26 January 2018 / Revised: 6 March 2018 / Accepted: 9 March 2018 / Published: 12 March 2018
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Aspergillus carbonarius, belonging to the group Nigri, is the main species responsible for contamination by ochratoxin A (OTA) in grapes and derivative products. OTA can accumulate in the mycelium and in black conidia of the fungus and released into the matrix. Here, we have deleted in A. carbonarius the alb1 orthologue gene of A. fumigatus, involved in melanin biosynthesis. Three A. carbonarius Δalb1 mutants were characterized for morphologic traits and OTA production on different media and temperatures. Δalb1 mutants showed a fawn color of conidia associated with a significant reduction of the conidiogenesis and a statistically significant increase (p ≤ 0.01) of total OTA production as compared to the wild type (WT) strain. The alb1 gene somehow affected OTA partitioning since in Δalb1 mutants OTA amount was lower in conidia and was more abundantly secreted into the medium as compared to the WT. On grape berries the Δalb1 mutants and the WT caused lesions with similar sizes but OTA amount in berry tissues was higher for the mutants. These results demonstrate that A. carbonarius conidia pigmentation is largely dependent on polyketide biosynthesis. The gene is not directly involved in virulence and its deletion affects morphological features and OTA production in the fungus. View Full-Text
Keywords: melanin; alb1; OTA partitioning; gene disruption; conidiation; sclerotia melanin; alb1; OTA partitioning; gene disruption; conidiation; sclerotia

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Gerin, D.; González-Candelas, L.; Ballester, A.-R.; Pollastro, S.; De Miccolis Angelini, R.M.; Faretra, F. Functional Characterization of the alb1 Orthologue Gene in the Ochratoxigenic Fungus Aspergillus carbonarius (AC49 strain). Toxins 2018, 10, 120.

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