The challenges and perspectives of the selection of starter cultures for fermented cocoa beans.


Tecnológico Nacional de México/Instituto Tecnológico de Veracruz, Unidad de Investigación y Desarrollo en Alimentos, M. A. de Quevedo 2779, Veracruz, Ver. C.P. 91897, Mexico. Electronic address: [Email]


Fermentation is an essential process step to develop precursor compounds for aroma and flavour characteristics of chocolate, as well as preventing germination of the cocoa bean. Despite the importance of the role of microorganisms during the chocolate production, to date, there are some discrepancies of the "cocobiota" community found during fermentation and the impact of starter culture in fermented cocoa beans. This review provides both a detailed overview of the starter cultures used in fermented cocoa beans and the microbial diversity involved during this process, and an in-depth discussion of the methods used to identify these microorganisms. In this review, we included only published articles from 2008 to 2018 in English language. A total of forty-seven studies contributed to the description of the cocobiota from 13 different countries. In detail, we observed that the most common fermentation method used is the wooden box, followed by heap. Interestingly, 37% of the studies cited in this review did not mention the type of cocoa variety studied. Most of the techniques used to identify the microbiota are fingerprinting based (DGGE); however, few studies have been using next-generation technologies to elucidate the possible functions and interactions among microbes. Our results showed a greater diversity of yeasts if compared with bacterial involved in the fermentation. This review will help researchers seeking to design starter cultures to drive cocoa bean fermentation, and thus achieve a homogenous mass of fermented cocoa beans as well as serve as a guide for assessing methodologies for the identification of microorganisms.


Acetic acid bacteria,Cocoa,Dependent-culture methods,Lactic acid bacteria,Molecular biology methods,Starter cultures,Yeast,

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