Species-specific identification of Penicillium linked to patulin contamination.
Certain species of Penicillium have been reported to produce the mycotoxin patulin, and research was undertaken to identify these with the use of oligonucleotide primer pairs. Species examined were found in food, plants, and soil and were reported to produce patulin. Penicillium expansum is the most commonly detected species linked to the presence of patulin in apple juice. At least 10 different enzymes are involved in the patulin biosynthetic pathway, including the isoepoxydon dehydrogenase (idh) gene. Based on nucleotide sequences previously determined for the idh gene in Penicillium species, PCR primers were designed for the species-specific detection of patulin-producing species. The 5' primers were based on differences in the second intron of the idh gene. To ensure that the primer pairs produced a PCR product restricted to the species for which it was designed, and not to unrelated species, all of the primer pairs were tested against all of the Penicillium species. With one exception, it was possible to detect a reaction only with the organism of interest. The primer pair for Penicillium griseofulvum also amplified DNA from Penicillium dipodomyicola, a closely related species; however, it was possible to distinguish between these two species by doing a second amplification, with a different primer pair specific only for P. dipodomyicola. Consequently, with different primer sets, it was possible to identify individual patulin-producing species of Penicillium.