Lactic Acid Bacteria

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Lactic acid bacteria occur in habitats with a rich nutrition supply such as decomposing plant material and fruits as well as in food and in cavities of humans and animals. They can also be found on grapes, in grape must and wine. This group of bacteria is characterized by the production of lactic acid as major catabolic end product from glucose. The acidic conditions (pH: 3.0 - 3.5) of grape must and the increasing concentration of ethanol during must fermentation allow growth of only a few acid tolerant microbial groups such as lactic acid bacteria. Only 22 species of the genera Lactobacillus, Leuconostoc, Pediococcus, Oenococcus and Weissella have been isolated during wine making. Lactic acid bacteria ferment different monosaccharides and metabolize organic compounds of must. The catabolic acitivities have an influence on the stability and flavour of the wine. A few species are applied as starter cultures for the reduction of the acidity of wine. This chapter describes some characteristics of only wine-related lactic acid bacteria.