Fungi and mycotoxins in vineyards and grape products

Int J Food Microbiol. 2007 Oct 20;119(1-2):84-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2007.07.031. Epub 2007 Aug 9.


Many fungi may occur on grapes during growth in the vineyard, but the main concern from the viewpoint of mycotoxin contamination is the black Aspergilli, Aspergillus carbonarius and A. niger. These fungi are capable of producing ochratoxin A (OA) which may contaminate grapes and grape products such as wine, grape juice and dried vine fruit. Understanding the ecology and physiology of the black Aspergilli can provide tools for management of OA at all stages of grape production and processing. In the vineyard, careful management of cultivation, irrigation and pruning can assist in minimising the levels of black Aspergilli in the soil, which in turn, can minimise contamination of grapes by these fungi. Minimising damage to grapes on the vine by the use of open vine canopies, grape varieties with resistance to rain damage and by the management of insect pests and fungal diseases (e.g., mildew, Botrytis bunch rot) can reduce the incidence of Aspergillus rot in mature berries. The risk of OA in table grapes can be minimised by careful visual inspection to avoid damaged and discoloured berries. In wine, harvesting grapes with minimal damage, rapid processing and good sanitation practices in the winery assist in minimising OA. During vinification, pressing of grapes, and clarification steps which remove grape solids, grape proteins and spent yeast can also remove a significant proportion of OA. For dried vine fruit production, avoiding berry damage, rapid drying, and final cleaning and sorting to remove dark berries can reduce overall OA levels in finished products.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aspergillus / growth & development*
  • Aspergillus / metabolism
  • Aspergillus niger / growth & development
  • Aspergillus niger / metabolism
  • Beverages / analysis
  • Food Contamination / analysis*
  • Food Contamination / prevention & control
  • Food Handling / methods*
  • Food Microbiology
  • Ochratoxins / analysis*
  • Ochratoxins / biosynthesis
  • Ochratoxins / toxicity
  • Plant Diseases / microbiology
  • Vitis* / chemistry
  • Vitis* / microbiology
  • Wine / analysis


  • Ochratoxins
  • ochratoxin A