Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 102, Issue 19, pp 8477–8491 | Cite as

Secondary metabolite production by cereal-associated penicillia during cultivation on cereal grains

  • Magnus Hallas-Møller
  • Kristian Fog Nielsen
  • Jens Christian Frisvad
Applied microbial and cell physiology


Cereals are vulnerable substrates for fungal growth and subsequent mycotoxin contamination. One of the major fungal genera to colonize the ecosystem of stored grain is Penicillium, especially species in the series of Viridicata and Verrucosa. Culturing these species on grains, we hoped to induce the production of relevant secondary metabolites produced by these fungi in the early stage of cereal breakdown. In a multivariate setup six different cereal grains (wheat, rye, barley, oat, rice, and maize), one kind of white beans, and two standard fungal media, Yeast Extract Sucrose agar (YES agar) and Czapek Yeast Autolysate agar (CYA agar), were inoculated with the ten most important cereal-associated species from Penicillium (P. aurantiogriseum, P. cyclopium, P. freii, P. melanoconidium, P. neoechinulatum, P. polonicum, P. tricolor, P. viridicatum, P. hordei, and P. verrucosum). P. nordicum is a meat-associated species, which was included due to its chemical association with P. verrucosum, in addition to see if a substrate change would alter the profile of known chemistry. We found that cereals function very well as substrates for secondary metabolite production, but did not present significantly different secondary metabolite profiles, concerning known chemistry, as compared to standard laboratory agar media. However, white beans altered the semi-quantitative secondary metabolite profiles for several species. Correlations between substrates and certain metabolites were observed, as illuminated by principal component analysis. Many bioactive secondary metabolites were observed for the first time in the analyzed fungal species, including ergot type alkaloids in P. hordei.


Filamentous fungi Cereals Mycotoxins Penicillium Viridicata Chemotaxonomy Secondary metabolites 



We are grateful to Agilent Technologies for the Thought Leader Donation of the UHPLC-QTOFMS system.


We would like to thank the Novo Nordisk Foundation grant #NNF 130 C0005201 for the funding of this study.

Compliance with ethical standards

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and animal rights and informed consent

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

253_2018_9213_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (19.9 mb)
ESM 1 (PDF 20327 kb)


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biotechnology and BiomedicineTechnical University of DenmarkKongens LyngbyDenmark

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