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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2014 Jun;80(12):3667-76.

In situ analysis of metabolic characteristics reveals the key yeast in the spontaneous and solid-state fermentation process of Chinese light-style liquor.


The in situ metabolic characteristics of the yeasts involved in spontaneous fermentation process of Chinese light-style liquor are poorly understood. The covariation between metabolic profiles and yeast communities in Chinese light-style liquor was modeled using the partial least square (PLS) regression method. The diversity of yeast species was evaluated by sequence analysis of the 26S ribosomal DNA (rDNA) D1/D2 domains of cultivable yeasts, and the volatile compounds in fermented grains were analyzed by gas chromatography (GC)-mass spectrometry (MS). Eight yeast species and 58 volatile compounds were identified, respectively. The modulation of 16 of these volatile compounds was associated with variations in the yeast population (goodness of prediction [Q(2)]>20%). The results showed that Pichia anomala was responsible for the characteristic aroma of Chinese liquor, through the regulation of several important volatile compounds, such as ethyl lactate, octanoic acid, and ethyl tetradecanoate. Correspondingly, almost all of the compounds associated with P. anomala were detected in a pure culture of this yeast. In contrast to the PLS regression results, however, ethyl lactate and ethyl isobutyrate were not detected in the same pure culture, which indicated that some metabolites could be generated by P. anomala only when it existed in a community with other yeast species. Furthermore, different yeast communities provided different volatile patterns in the fermented grains, which resulted in distinct flavor profiles in the resulting liquors. This study could help identify the key yeast species involved in spontaneous fermentation and provide a deeper understanding of the role of individual yeast species in the community.

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