Alternaria in malting barley: Characterization and distribution in relation with climatic conditions and barley cultivars

Eliana Castañares, Lucía da Cruz Cabral, Maria I. Dinolfo, Birgitte Andersen, Sebastián A. Stenglein, Andrea Patriarca*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Alternaria is one of the main fungal genera affecting the quality of barley grains. In this study, a polyphasic approach was carried out to characterise the Alternaria population infecting different cultivars of barley grains from the major producing regions of Argentina in the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Its relationship with Fusarium and correlations between predominant species, barley cultivars, and climatic conditions in the growing regions were evaluated.
Alternaria incidence exceeded that of Fusarium in all the barley samples and was higher in the drier season (21 % in 2014 and 42 % in 2015 vs. 6 % and 4 %, respectively). The main Alternaria species-groups identified were present in both growing seasons in similar frequencies (A. tenuissima sp.-grp., 83.4 % in 2014 and 81.7 % in 2015; A. infectoria sp.-grp., 11.7 % in 2014 and 11.3 % in 2015). The dominant Alternaria species-group isolated and identified based on morphological characteristics, DNA sequencing, and metabolite profile was A. tenuissima (72.9 %), followed by A. infectoria (14.6 %). An association between their frequency and field temperature was observed; A. tenuissima sp.-grp. was more frequent in northern localities, where higher temperatures were registered, while the opposite was observed for A. infectoria sp.-grp. A smaller percentage of A. arborescens sp.-grp. (5 %), A. alternata sp.-grp. (3.9 %) and A. vaccinii (1.4 %) were also identified.
Both secondary metabolite profiles and phylogenetic analysis were useful to distinguish isolates from Alternaria section Alternaria and section Infectoriae. Regarding metabolite profiles, alternariol was the most frequent compound produced by isolates of the section Alternaria. Infectopyrones and novae-zelandins were produced by most of the isolates from section Infectoriae.
The barley cultivars analysed in this study did not show a particular susceptibility regarding the Alternaria population composition, except for Andreia, which presented the highest frequency of contamination with A. tenuissima sp.-grp. The rest of the cultivars, when grown in different regions, showed different proportion of the Alternaria sp.-grps., suggesting that other factors were determinant in their distribution.
The results obtained in the present study will be a valuable tool for health authorities to assess the need for regulations on Alternaria mycotoxins, given the high incidence of Alternaria spp. in barley and the diversity of metabolites that might contaminate the grains.
Original languageEnglish
Article number109367
JournalInternational Journal of Food Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

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  • Alternaria
  • Barley
  • Fungal interactions
  • Geographic distribution
  • Metabolite profiles


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