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Int J Food Microbiol. 2007 Jun 30;117(2):201-10. Epub 2007 Apr 25.

Yeast dynamics during spontaneous wine fermentation of the Catalanesca grape.

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Dipartimento di Scienza degli Alimenti, Sezione di Microbiologia Agraria, Alimentare e Ambientale e di Igiene, Stazione di Microbiologia Industriale, Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, via Università 100, 80055 Portici, Italy.


Although the use of starter cultures in winemaking has improved the reproducibility and predictability of wine quality, the main drawback to this practice is the lack of the typical traits of wines produced by spontaneous fermentation. In this study, we identified for the first time the yeast population occurring during spontaneous fermentation of the Catalanesca white grape, a variety from Campania (Italy). Yeasts were identified using molecular tools: PCR-DGGE and partial sequence analysis of the 26S rRNA gene from isolates. Eighteen different species belonging to 11 different genera were identified. Hanseniaspora spp., Issatchenkia spp. and Candida spp. were the dominant yeasts during the early stages of fermentation, while the middle and end phases were dominated by Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Four species of Issatchenkia spp., rarely isolated from wine fermentation, were found in this study accounting for the 33.5% of the total isolates. The RAPD-PCR screening of the isolates followed by partial rRNA gene sequencing proved to be a very effective approach to first differentiate the isolates and then identify yeast species involved in a wine making procedure. The results show very high yeast diversity in this natural wine fermentation and also highlight the possibility of considering interesting autochthonous strains for starter selection.

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