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Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek. 2011 Jan;99(1):75-84. doi: 10.1007/s10482-010-9511-8. Epub 2010 Sep 26.

Yeasts in malting, with special emphasis on Wickerhamomyces anomalus (synonym Pichia anomala).

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VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, P.O.Box 1000, 02044 Espoo, Finland.


Malted barley is a major raw material of beer, as well as distilled spirits and several food products. The production of malt (malting) exploits the biochemical reactions of a natural process, grain germination. In addition to germinating grain, the malting process includes another metabolically active component: a diverse microbial community that includes various types of bacteria and fungi. Therefore, malting can be considered as a complex ecosystem involving two metabolically active groups. Yeasts and yeast-like fungi are an important part of this ecosystem, but previously the significance of yeasts in malting has been largely underestimated. Characterization and identification of yeasts in industrial processes revealed 25 ascomycetous yeasts belonging to 10 genera, and 18 basidiomycetous yeasts belonging to 7 genera. In addition, two ascomycetous yeast-like fungi belonging to the genera Aureobasidium and Exophiala were commonly detected. Yeasts and yeast-like fungi produced extracellular hydrolytic enzymes with a potentially positive contribution to the malt enzyme spectrum. Several ascomycetous yeast strains showed strong antagonistic activity against field and storage moulds, Wickerhamomyces anomalus (synonym Pichia anomala) being the most effective species. Malting studies revealed that W. anomalus VTT C-04565 effectively restricted Fusarium growth and hydrophobin production during malting and prevented beer gushing. In order to broaden the antimicrobial spectrum and to improve malt brewhouse performance, W. anomalus could be combined with other starter cultures such as Lactobacillus plantarum. Well-characterized microbial mixtures consisting of barley and malt-derived microbes open up several possibilities to improve malt properties and to ensure the safety of the malting process.

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