Fine Resolution Analysis of Microbial Communities Provides Insights Into the Variability of Cocoa Bean Fermentation.
ABSTRACT: Cocoa bean fermentation is an important microbial process, where most metabolites that affect chocolate quality and aroma are generated. Production of reproducible high-quality beans is a major challenge because most fermentations occur in open containers with a lack of variable control. Here we present a study that aims to identify the effect of farm protocols, climate, and bean mass exposure, in the dynamics and composition of microbial communities. Using high-throughput sequencing of molecular markers for bacteria and yeasts, complemented with culture-based methods, we evaluated the microbial diversity and dynamics associated to spontaneous cocoa fermentation in two distinct agro-ecological zones in Colombia. The bacterial communities were classified at two levels of evolutionary relationship, at a coarse resolution (OTU-level) and at a finer resolution (oligotype-level). A total of six bacterial OTUs were present in both farms, following a microbial succession that starts with the Enterobacteraceae family (one OTU), transitioning to the Lactobacillaceae family (three OTUs), and finishing with Acetobacteraceae family (two OTUs). When undesirable practices were done, OTUs were observed at unexpected moments during the fermentation. At a finer taxonomic resolution, 48 oligotypes were identified, with 46 present in both farms. These oligotypes have different patterns of prevalence. In the case of Lactobacillaceae a high evenness was observed among oligotypes. In contrast, for Enterobacteraceae and Acetobacteraceae a high dominance of one or two oligotypes was observed, these oligotypes were the same for both farms, despite geographic location and season of sampling. When the overall fermentations were compared using correlations matrices of oligotypes abundance, they show a clear clustering by farm, suggesting that farm protocols generate a unique fingerprint in the dynamics and interactions of the microbial communities. The comparison between the upper and middle layers of the bean mass showed that environmental exposure affects the paces at which ecological successions occur, and therefore, is an important source of cocoa quality heterogeneity. In conclusion, the results presented here showed that the dynamics of microbial fermentation can be used to identify the sources of variability and evidence the need for better fermentation technologies that favor the production of reproducible high-quality cocoa beans.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Acetobacter pasteurianus 386B, an acetic acid bacterium originating from a spontaneous cocoa bean heap fermentation, proved to be an ideal functional starter culture for coca bean fermentations. It is able to dominate the fermentation process, thereby resisting high acetic acid concentrations and temperatures. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying its metabolic capabilities and niche adaptations are unknown. In this study, whole-genome sequencing and comparative genome analysis was used to investigate this strain's mechanisms to dominate the cocoa bean fermentation process. RESULTS:The genome sequence of A. pasteurianus 386B is composed of a 2.8-Mb chromosome and seven plasmids. The annotation of 2875 protein-coding sequences revealed important characteristics, including several metabolic pathways, the occurrence of strain-specific genes such as an endopolygalacturonase, and the presence of mechanisms involved in tolerance towards various stress conditions. Furthermore, the low number of transposases in the genome and the absence of complete phage genomes indicate that this strain might be more genetically stable compared with other A. pasteurianus strains, which is an important advantage for the use of this strain as a functional starter culture. Comparative genome analysis with other members of the Acetobacteraceae confirmed the functional properties of A. pasteurianus 386B, such as its thermotolerant nature and unique genetic composition. CONCLUSIONS:Genome analysis of A. pasteurianus 386B provided detailed insights into the underlying mechanisms of its metabolic features, niche adaptations, and tolerance towards stress conditions. Combination of these data with previous experimental knowledge enabled an integrated, global overview of the functional characteristics of this strain. This knowledge will enable improved fermentation strategies and selection of appropriate acetic acid bacteria strains as functional starter culture for cocoa bean fermentation processes.
Project description:Cocoa bean fermentation relies on the sequential activation of several microbial populations, triggering a temporal pattern of biochemical transformations. Understanding this complex process is of tremendous importance as it is known to form the precursors of the resulting chocolate's flavour and taste. At the same time, cocoa bean fermentation is one of the least controlled processes in the food industry. Here, a quantitative model of cocoa bean fermentation is constructed based on available microbiological and biochemical knowledge. The model is formulated as a system of coupled ordinary differential equations with two distinct types of state variables: (i) metabolite concentrations of glucose, fructose, ethanol, lactic acid and acetic acid and (ii) population sizes of yeast, lactic acid bacteria and acetic acid bacteria. We demonstrate that the model can quantitatively describe existing fermentation time series and that the estimated parameters, obtained by a Bayesian framework, can be used to extract and interpret differences in environmental conditions. The proposed model is a valuable tool towards a mechanistic understanding of this complex biochemical process, and can serve as a starting point for hypothesis testing of new systemic adjustments. In addition to providing the first quantitative mathematical model of cocoa bean fermentation, the purpose of our investigation is to show how differences in estimated parameter values for two experiments allow us to deduce differences in experimental conditions.
Project description:Traditional fermentations of the local Ecuadorian cocoa type Nacional, with its fine flavor, are carried out in boxes and on platforms for a short time. A multiphasic approach, encompassing culture-dependent and -independent microbiological analyses of fermenting cocoa pulp-bean samples, metabolite target analyses of both cocoa pulp and beans, and sensory analysis of chocolates produced from the respective fermented dry beans, was applied for the investigation of the influence of these fermentation practices on the yeast and bacterial species diversity and community dynamics during cocoa bean fermentation. A wide microbial species diversity was found during the first 3 days of all fermentations carried out. The prevailing ethanol-producing yeast species were Pichia kudriavzevii and Pichia manshurica, followed by Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Leuconostoc pseudomesenteroides (glucose and fructose fermenting), Fructobacillus tropaeoli-like (fructose fermenting), and Lactobacillus fermentum (citrate converting, mannitol producing) represented the main lactic acid bacterial species in the fermentations studied, resulting in intensive heterolactate metabolism of the pulp substrates. Tatumella saanichensis and Tatumella punctata were among the members of the family Enterobacteriaceae present during the initial phase of the cocoa bean fermentations and could be responsible for the production of gluconic acid in some cases. Also, a potential new yeast species was isolated, namely, Candida sorbosivorans-like. Acetic acid bacteria, whose main representative was Acetobacter pasteurianus, generally appeared later during fermentation and oxidized ethanol to acetic acid. However, acetic acid bacteria were not always present during the main course of the platform fermentations. All of the data taken together indicated that short box and platform fermentation methods caused incomplete fermentation, which had a serious impact on the quality of the fermented dry cocoa beans.
Project description:The growth of filamentous fungi during the spontaneous cocoa bean fermentation leads to inferior cocoa bean quality and poses a health risk for consumers due to the potential accumulation of mycotoxins. We recently developed anti-fungal cultures with the capacity to inhibit the growth of mycotoxigenic filamentous fungi on cocoa beans. However, it is not clear how these anti-fungal cultures affect the fermentation process and cocoa bean quality. For that, the anti-fungal co-cultures, Lactobacillus fermentum M017-Saccharomyces cerevisiae H290 (A) and Lb. fermentum 223-S. cerevisiae H290 (B), were applied to 180-kg box fermentations in Honduras in three time-independent replications each including a spontaneous control fermentation. The comparison of inoculated and spontaneous fermentation processes revealed that the co-cultures only marginally affected the fermentation process and cocoa bean quality. Microorganisms reached maximal levels of 6.2-7.6 log CFU/g of yeasts and acetic acid bacteria and 7.9-9.5 log CFU/g of lactic acid bacteria during all fermentations and led to maximal metabolite concentrations in bean cotyledons of 4-12 mg/g ethanol, 2-6 mg/g lactic acid and 6-14 mg/g acetic acid. The fermentation and drying processes resulted in 38-90 mg epicatechin equivalents/g in the cotyledons of dried beans. However, the co-cultures led to up to ten times higher mannitol levels in cotyledons of inoculated beans compared to beans during spontaneous fermentation, and caused a slower fermentation process, detectable as up to 8-12 °C lower temperatures in the centre of the fermenting pulp-bean mass and up to 22% lower proportions of well-fermented beans after drying. Co-culture B-with Lb. fermentum 223 -led to improved cocoa bean quality compared to co-culture A-with Lb. fermentum M017 -, i.e. cocoa beans with 0.5-1.9 mg/g less acetic acid, 4-17% higher shares of well-fermented beans and, on a scale from 0 to 10, to 0.2-0.6 units lower astringency, up to 1.1 units lower off-flavours, and 0.2-0.9 units higher cocoa notes. Therefore, the anti-fungal co-culture B is recommended for future applications and its capacity to limit fungal growth and mycotoxin production during industrial-scale cocoa bean fermentation should be investigated in further studies.
Project description:Indonesia is the fifth largest cocoa-producing country in the world, and an increase in cocoa farming efficiency can help farmers to increase their per capita income and reduce poverty in rural areas of this country. This research evaluated the efficiency of Indonesian cocoa farms using a non-parametric approach. The results revealed that the majority of cocoa farms are operated relatively inefficiently. The average technical and allocative efficiencies (0.82 and 0.46, respectively) of these cocoa farms demonstrated that there is potential for improvement. The potential cost reductions range from 36 to 76%, with an average of 60%, if farmers practice efficiently. The technical and allocative efficiencies and cocoa farm economies are affected by the use of quality seeds, organic fertilizers, frequency of extension and training of farm managers, access to bank credit and the market, the participation of women, and the farm manager's gender. An increase in the output would increase farmers' income and reduce poverty in rural areas. This research suggests that the availability of extension and training provided to farmers as well as support for women farmer groups should be increased. Credit programs are also important for cocoa farmers, so policymakers should develop programs that make production credit more accessible for farmers, especially through cooperatives and banks.
Project description:Cocoa pulp fermentation is a spontaneous process during which the natural microbiota present at cocoa farms is allowed to ferment the pulp surrounding cocoa beans. Because such spontaneous fermentations are inconsistent and contribute to product variability, there is growing interest in a microbial starter culture that could be used to inoculate cocoa pulp fermentations. Previous studies have revealed that many different fungi are recovered from different batches of spontaneous cocoa pulp fermentations, whereas the variation in the prokaryotic microbiome is much more limited. In this study, therefore, we aimed to develop a suitable yeast starter culture that is able to outcompete wild contaminants and consistently produce high-quality chocolate. Starting from specifically selected Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains, we developed robust hybrids with characteristics that allow them to efficiently ferment cocoa pulp, including improved temperature tolerance and fermentation capacity. We conducted several laboratory and field trials to show that these new hybrids often outperform their parental strains and are able to dominate spontaneous pilot scale fermentations, which results in much more consistent microbial profiles. Moreover, analysis of the resulting chocolate showed that some of the cocoa batches that were fermented with specific starter cultures yielded superior chocolate. Taken together, these results describe the development of robust yeast starter cultures for cocoa pulp fermentations that can contribute to improving the consistency and quality of commercial chocolate production.
Project description:This is the first report on the phylogenetic analysis of the community diversity of a single spontaneous cocoa bean box fermentation sample through a metagenomic approach involving 454 pyrosequencing. Several sequence-based and composition-based taxonomic profiling tools were used and evaluated to avoid software-dependent results and their outcome was validated by comparison with previously obtained culture-dependent and culture-independent data. Overall, this approach revealed a wider bacterial (mainly ?-Proteobacteria) and fungal diversity than previously found. Further, the use of a combination of different classification methods, in a software-independent way, helped to understand the actual composition of the microbial ecosystem under study. In addition, bacteriophage-related sequences were found. The bacterial diversity depended partially on the methods used, as composition-based methods predicted a wider diversity than sequence-based methods, and as classification methods based solely on phylogenetic marker genes predicted a more restricted diversity compared with methods that took all reads into account. The metagenomic sequencing analysis identified Hanseniaspora uvarum, Hanseniaspora opuntiae, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Lactobacillus fermentum, and Acetobacter pasteurianus as the prevailing species. Also, the presence of occasional members of the cocoa bean fermentation process was revealed (such as Erwinia tasmaniensis, Lactobacillus brevis, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactococcus lactis, Leuconostoc mesenteroides, and Oenococcus oeni). Furthermore, the sequence reads associated with viral communities were of a restricted diversity, dominated by Myoviridae and Siphoviridae, and reflecting Lactobacillus as the dominant host. To conclude, an accurate overview of all members of a cocoa bean fermentation process sample was revealed, indicating the superiority of metagenomic sequencing over previously used techniques.
Project description:Forastero hybrid cocoa bean fermentations have been carried out in a box (B) and in a heap (H), with or without the inoculation of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Torulaspora delbrueckii as starter cultures. The bacteria, yeasts, and microbial metabolites (volatile and nonvolatile organic compounds) were monitored during fermentation to assess the connection between microbiota and the release of metabolites during this process. The presence of starter cultures was detected, by means of culture-dependent analysis, during the first 2 days of both fermentations. However, no statistical difference was observed in any of the physicochemical or microbiological analyses. Plate counts revealed the dominance of yeasts at the beginning of both fermentations, and these were followed by acetic acid bacteria (AAB) and lactic acid bacteria (LAB). Hanseniaspora opuntiae, S. cerevisiae, Pichia pijperi, Acetobacter pasteurianus, and Lactobacillus fermentum were the most abundant operational taxonomic units (OTUs) during both fermentation processes (B and H), although different relative abundances were observed. Only the diversity of the fungal species indicated a higher level of complexity in the B fermentations than in the H fermentations (P < 0.05), as well as a statistically significant difference between the initially inoculated starter cultures (P < 0.01). However, the microbial metabolite analysis indicated different distributions of the volatile and nonvolatile compounds between the two procedures, that is, B and H (P < 0.05), rather than between the inoculated and noninoculated fermentations. The box fermentations showed faster carbohydrate metabolism and greater production of organic acid compounds, which boosted the formation of alcohols and esters, than did the heap fermentations. Overall, the microbial dynamics and associations between the bacteria, yeasts, and metabolites were found to depend on the type of fermentation.IMPORTANCE In spite of the limited effectiveness of the considered inoculated starter strains, this study provides new information on the microbial development of box and heap cocoa fermentations, under inoculated and noninoculated conditions, as we coupled yeast/bacterial amplicon-based sequencing data with microbial metabolite detection. The information so far available suggests that microbial communities have played an important role in the evolution of aroma compounds. Understanding the pathways that microorganisms follow during the formation of aromas could be used to improve the fermentation processes and to enhance chocolate quality.
Project description:Cocoa beans (Theobroma cacao L.) are the principal raw material for chocolate manufacture. Before cocoa beans are ready for the chocolate industry, farm-based fermentation and drying processes are key determinants of bean quality and hence the price. To improve its value, cocoa beans were dried in a modified greenhouse (MGHD), conventional greenhouse (CGHD), and open sun (OSD) dryers. The drying behavior, kinetics, and quality were evaluated. The MGHD was constructed by modifying a conventional greenhouse with a fleece of black polyester material. Evaluation of air properties of the dryers without and with cocoa beans showed that the MGHD had average temperatures of 2 and 8°C above, and relative humidity of 12.28% and 25.48% below the CGHD and OSD, respectively. The drying data were fitted to four thin layer mathematical models. The Page and Overhult models gave favorable ranges of R 2 (.976 to .987), chi-square (3.7 × 10-4 to 9.9 × 10-4), and root mean square (RMSE; 0.0188 to 0.0307) for the three dryers. The cocoa beans dried in the MGHD took a shorter time to reach the expected 5%-8% moisture content and were of grade one quality.
Project description:On dairy farms in hot climates worldwide, cows suffer from heat stress, which is alleviated by the use of water cooling systems. Sprinklers and showerheads are known to support the development of microbial biofilms, which can be a source of infection by pathogenic microorganisms. The aim of this study was to investigate the presence of microbial biofilms in dairy cooling systems, and to analyze their population compositions using culture-independent technique, 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Biofilm samples were collected on eight dairy farms from 40 sprinklers and the microbial constituents were identified by deep sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene. A total of 9,374 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) was obtained from all samples. The mean richness of the samples was 465 ± 268 OTUs which were classified into 26 different phyla; 76% of the reads belonged to only three phyla: Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria and Firmicutes. Although the most prevalent OTUs (Paracoccus, Methyloversatilis, Brevundimonas, Porphyrobacter, Gp4, Mycobacterium, Hyphomicrobium, Corynebacterium and Clostridium) were shared by all farms, each farm formed a unique microbial pattern. Some known potential human and livestock pathogens were found to be closely related to the OTUs found in this study. This work demonstrates the presence of biofilm in dairy cooling systems which may potentially serve as a live source for microbial pathogens.