Reference Number: 119
The fermentation of cocoa relies on a complex succession of bacteria and filamentous fungi, all of which can have an impact on cocoa flavor. So far, few investigations have focused on the diversity of lactic acid bacteria involved in cocoa fermentation, and many earlier investigations did not rely on polyphasic taxonomical approaches, which take both phenotypic and genotypic characterization techniques into account. In our study, we characterized predominant lactic acid bacteria from cocoa fermentations in Nigeria, using a combination of phenotypic tests, repetitive extragenic palindromic PCR, and sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene of representative strains for accurate species identification. Thus, of a total of 193 lactic acid bacteria (LAB) strains isolated from common media used to cultivate LAB, 40 (20.7%) were heterofermentative and consisted of either L. brevis or L. fermentum strains. The majority of the isolates were homofermentative rods (110 strains; 57% of isolates) which were characterized as L. plantarum strains. The homofermentative cocci consisted predominantly of 35 (18.1% of isolates) Pediococcus acidilactici strains. Thus, the LAB populations derived from these media in this study were accurately described. This can contribute to the further assessment of the effect of common LAB strains on the flavor characteristics of fermenting cocoa in further studies.