Author(s): Tao Y, Li J, Rui J, Xu Z, Zhou Y,
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Abstract Chinese strong-flavored liquor (CSFL) accounts for more than 70\% of all Chinese liquor production. Microbes in pit mud play key roles in the fermentation cellar for the CSFL production. However, microbial diversity, community structure, and cellar-age-related changes in pit mud are poorly understood. Here, we investigated the prokaryotic community structure and diversity in pit-mud samples with different cellar ages (1, 10, 25, and 50 years) using the pyrosequencing technique. Results indicated that prokaryotic diversity increased with cellar age until the age reached 25 years and that prokaryotic community structure changed significantly between three cellar ages (1, 10, and 25 years). Significant correlations between prokaryotic communities and environmental variables (pH, NH4(+), lactic acid, butyric acid, and caproic acid) were observed. Overall, our study results suggested that the long-term brewing operation shapes unique prokaryotic community structure and diversity as well as pit-mud chemistry. We have proposed a three-phase model to characterize the changes of pit-mud prokaryotic communities. (i) Phase I is an initial domestication period. Pit mud is characterized by abundant Lactobacillus and high lactic acid and low pH levels. (ii) Phase II is a transition period. While Lactobacillus abundance decreases dramatically, that of Bacteroidetes and methanogens increases. (iii) Phase III is a relative mature period. The prokaryotic community shows the highest diversity and capability to produce more caproic acid as a precursor for synthesis of ethyl caproate, the main flavor component in CSFL. This research provides scientific evidence to support the practical experience that old fermentation cellars produce high-quality liquor.
This article was published in Appl Environ Microbiol
and referenced in Journal of Proteomics & Bioinformatics