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Piperscan: investigation of the main bottlenecks in the microbiological safety in the Brazilian black pepper production chain


Black pepper (Piper nigrum L.) is the most economically important spice and the most used around the world. Brazil is the world's second-largest producer of black pepper and the largest producer in the West. Recent investigations have pointed to a major problem of microbiological contamination of Brazilian black pepper by bacteria such as Salmonella spp. and by toxigenic fungi, which denotes a serious risk to public health and generates enormous damage to the productive sector. Most of the studies dedicated to the investigation of the black pepper microbiota did not use molecular methodologies, therefore, a more in-depth investigation, based on more sensitive and specific methods, is necessary for the characterization of the microbiota in this food. Thus, the present project has the following general objectives: 1) To measure the level of fungal and enterobacterial contamination in black pepper samples; 2) Investigate, based on multilocus phylogenetic analyses, the diversity of the mycobiota at different stages of its production chain, with a focus on prospecting the incidence of toxigenic species; 3) Investigate the biosynthetic gene cluster of ochratoxin A in populations of A. ochraceus and A. carbonarius isolated from black pepper; 4) Measure the incidence of Salmonella spp. in the black pepper samples; 5) Characterize the structure of bacterial diversity through metataxonomic analysis (metabarcoding). (AU)

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