BACKGROUNDThe evolution of the fungal communities associated with durum wheat was assessed using different diagnostic approaches. Durum wheat grain samples were collected in three different Italian cultivation macro-areas (north, center and south). Fungal isolation was realized by potato dextrose agar (PDA) and by deep-freezing blotter (DFB). Identification of Fusarium isolates obtained from PDA was achieved by partial tef1 alpha sequencing (PDA + tef1 alpha), while those obtained from DFB were identified from their morphological characteristics (DFB + mc). The fungal biomass of eight Fusarium species was quantified in grains by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). Fungal secondary metabolites were analyzed in grains by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Correlations between Fusarium detection techniques (PDA + tef1 alpha; DFB + mc and qPCR) and mycotoxins in grains were assessed. RESULTSAlternaria and Fusarium showed the highest incidence among the fungal genera developed from grains. Within the Fusarium community, PDA + tef1 alpha highlighted that F. avenaceum and F. graminearum were the most represented members, while, DFB + mc detected a high presence of F. proliferatum. Alternaria and Fusarium mycotoxins, principally enniatins, were particularly present in the grain harvested in central Italy. Deoxynivalenol was mainly detected in northern-central Italy. CONCLUSIONSThe adoption of the different diagnostic techniques of Fusarium detection highlighted that, for some species, qPCR was the best method of predicting their mycotoxin contamination in grains. (c) 2023 The Authors. Journal of The Science of Food and Agriculture published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Society of Chemical Industry.
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