Fusarium species threaten yield and quality of cereals worldwide due to their ability to produce mycotoxins and cause plant diseases. Trichothecenes and zearalenone are the most economically significant mycotoxins and are of particular concern in barley, maize and wheat. For this reason, the aim of this study was to characterize the Fusarium isolates from brewing barley and to assess deoxynivalenol and zearalenone contamination in grains. Characterization of the Fusarium strains was carried out by the phylogeny based on two loci (EF-1α and RPB2). Mycotoxin detection and quantification were performed by LC-MS. The results show that Fusarium was the predominant genus. Phylogenetic study demonstrated that the majority of the strains clustered within the Fusarium sambucinum species complex followed by the Fusarium tricinctum species complex. The results revealed high incidence of deoxynivalenol (DON) and zearalenone (ZEA) contamination (90.6% and 87.5%, respectively). It was observed that 86% of the samples contaminated with ZEA were above the limits set by the EU and Brazilian regulations. These results may highlight the importance of controlling Fusarium toxins in barley, mainly because of its use in the brewing industry and the resistance of various mycotoxins to food processing treatments.
Keywords: cereals; deoxynivalenol; mycotoxigenic fungi; phylogeny; zearalenone.