BMC Microbiol. 2022 Aug 15;22(1):197. doi: 10.1186/s12866-022-02597-9.
BACKGROUND: The aging process in the tobacco production, as in other food industries, is an important process for improving the quality of raw materials. In the spontaneous aging, the complex components in flue-cured tobacco (FT) improve flavor or reduce harmful compounds through chemical reactions, microbial metabolism, and enzymatic catalysis. Some believed that tobacco-microbe played a significant part in this process. However, little information is available on how microbes mediate chemical composition to improve the quality of FT, which will lay the foundation for the time-consuming spontaneous aging to seek ways to shorten the aging cycle.
RESULTS: Comparing aged and unaged FT, volatile and non-volatile differential compounds (DCs) were multi-dimensionally analyzed with the non-targeted metabolomes based on UPLC-QTOP-MS (the ultra-performance liquid chromatography quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry), GC-MS (gas chromatography-mass spectrometer) assisted derivatization and HP-SPME-GC/MS (headspace solid-phase micro-extraction assisted GC-MS). Products associated with the degradation pathways of terpenoids or higher fatty acids were one of the most important factors in improving FT quality. With the microbiome, the diversity and functions of microbial flora were analyzed. The high relative abundance function categories were in coincidence with DCs-related metabolic pathways. According to the correlation analysis, Acinetobacter, Sphingomonas and Aspergillus were presumed to be the important contributor, in which Aspergillus was associated with the highest number of degradation products of terpenoids and higher fatty acids. At last, the screened Aspergillus nidulans strain F4 could promote the degradation of terpenoids and higher fatty acids to enhance tobacco flavor by secreting highly active lipoxygenase and peroxidase, which verified the effect of tobacco-microbes on FT quality.
CONCLUSIONS: By integrating the microbiome and metabolome, tobacco-microbe can mediate flavor-related substances to improve the quality of FT after aging, which provided a basis for identifying functional microorganisms for reforming the traditional spontaneous aging.