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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2003 Mar 14;220(1):49-55.

Degradation of vanillic acid and production of guaiacol by microorganisms isolated from cork samples.

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  • 1Departamento de Microbiologia, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Extremadura, Avenida de Elvas s/n, 06071 Badajoz, Spain.


The presence of guaiacol in cork stoppers is responsible for some cases of cork taint causing unpleasant alterations to wine. We have performed a characterization of the cork-associated microbiota by isolating 55 different microorganisms: eight yeast, 14 filamentous fungi or molds, 13 actinomycetes and 20 non-filamentous bacteria. A screening for degradation of vanillic acid and guaiacol production showed that none of the filamentous fungi could achieve any of these processes. By contrast, five of the eight yeast strains isolated were able to degrade vanillic acid, although it was not converted to guaiacol. Guaiacol production was only detected in four bacterial strains: one isolate of Bacillus subtilis and three actinomycetes, Streptomyces sp. A3, Streptomyces sp. A5 and Streptomyces sp. A13, were able to accumulate this compound in both liquid media and cultures over cork. These results suggest that guaiacol-mediated cork taint should be attributed to the degradative action of vanillic acid by bacterial strains growing on cork.

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