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International journal of food microbiology

The fungal community structure of barley malts from diverse geographical regions correlates with malt quality parameters.


PMID 26340674

Abstract

Malt is a preferred base for fermentations that produce beer or whisky. Barley for malt is grown under diverse environments in different geographical locations. Malt provides an ecological niche for a varied range of microorganisms with both positive and negative effects on its quality for brewing. Little information exists in the literature on the microbial community structure of Australian malt as well as broader global geographical differences in the associated fungal and bacterial communities. The aims of the present study were to compare the bacterial and fungal community structures of Australian commercial malt with its international counterparts originating from different geographical regions using terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (TRFLP) fingerprinting and clone library analyses of ribosomal RNA genes. Further, the relationship between malt associated microbial communities and conventional malt quality parameters was also compared. Results showed that differences in fungal communities of malts from different geographical location were more pronounced than bacterial communities. TRFLP analysis discriminated high quality commercial malts with low fungal loads from malts deliberately infected with fungal inocula (Fusarium/Penicillium). Malt moisture, beta-amylase, α-amylase and limit dextrinase contents showed significant correlations with fungal community structure. This investigation concluded that fungal community structure was more important to subsequent malt quality outcomes than bacteria.