Metagenomics unveils microbial roles involved in metabolic network of flavor development in medium-temperature daqu starter
Food Res Int. 2021 Feb;140:110037. doi: 10.1016/j.foodres.2020.110037. Epub 2020 Dec 24.
As a widely used Asian starter culture, the quality of daqu can significantly affect the organoleptic characteristics of the final products, yet the microbial metabolic network involved in flavor development remains unclear. This study aims to investigate that network based on the dynamics of physicochemical properties, microbial community, and volatile compounds in medium-temperature daqu (MT-daqu) during spontaneous fermentation. Analyses using the metagenomic data set facilitated the gene repertoire overview of this ecosystem, indicating that Lactobacillales (mainly Weissella, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus), Mucorales (mainly Lichtheimia), and Eurotiales (mainly Aspergillus, Rasamsonia and Byssochlamys) were the potential predominant populations successively responsible for the production of lytic enzymes and flavor precursors/compounds in MT-daqu. Flavor-relevant pathways were found to exist in multiple species, but only bacteria showed the potential to participate in butane-2,3-diol (e.g. Weissella, Lactobacillus, and Staphylococcus) and butanoate (Thermoactinomyces) metabolism, and only fungi were potentially involved in biosynthesis of guaiacol (Byssochlamys) and 4-vinylguaiacol (Aspergillus). Furthermore, a combined analysis revealed that the acidic thermal environment present in early phases was mainly due to the catabolic activities of Lactobacillales and Lichtheimia, which could contribute to the effective self-domestication of microbiota. The study helps elucidate the different metabolic roles of microorganisms and disclose the formation mechanism of daqu’s partial functions, namely providing various aromatic substances/precursors and enzymes.