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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2003 Aug;69(8):4367-74.

Microbial and physiological characterization of weakly amylolytic but fast-growing lactic acid bacteria: a functional role in supporting microbial diversity in pozol, a Mexican fermented maize beverage.

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Departamento de Alimentos y Biotecnología, Facultad de Química, UNAM, 04510 México D.F., México.


Pozol is an acid beverage obtained from the natural fermentation of nixtamal (heat- and alkali-treated maize) dough. The concentration of mono- and disaccharides from maize is reduced during nixtamalization, so that starch is the main carbohydrate available for lactic acid fermentation. In order to provide some basis to understand the role of amylolytic lactic acid bacteria (ALAB) in this fermented food, their diversity and physiological characteristics were determined. Forty amylolytic strains were characterized by phenotypic and molecular taxonomic methods. Four different biotypes were distinguished via ribotyping; Streptococcus bovis strains were found to be predominant. Streptococcus macedonicus, Lactococcus lactis, and Enterococcus sulfureus strains were also identified. S. bovis strain 25124 showed extremely low amylase yield relative to biomass (139 U g [cell dry weight](-1)) and specific rate of amylase production (130.7 U g [cell dry weight](-1) h(-1)). In contrast, it showed a high specific growth rate (0.94 h(-1)) and an efficient energy conversion yield to bacterial cell biomass (0.31 g of biomass g of substrate(-1)). These would confer on the strain a competitive advantage and are the possible reasons for its dominance. Transient accumulation of maltooligosaccharides during fermentation could presumably serve as energy sources for nonamylolytic species in pozol fermentation. This would explain the observed diversity and the dominance of nonamylolytic lactic acid bacteria at the end of fermentation. These results are the first step to understanding the importance of ALAB during pozol fermentation.

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