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Molecular tools for the analysis of the microbiota involved in malolactic fermentation: from microbial diversity to selection of lactic acid bacteria of enological interest

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Winemaking is a complex process involving two successive fermentations: alcoholic fermentation, by yeasts, and malolactic fermentation (MLF), by lactic acid bacteria (LAB). During MLF, LAB can contribute positively to wine flavor through decarboxylation of malic acid with acidity reduction and other numerous enzymatic reactions. However, some microorganisms can have a negative impact on the quality of the wine through processes such as biogenic amine production. For these reasons, monitoring the bacterial community profiles during MLF can predict and control the quality of the final product. In addition, the selection of LAB from a wine-producing area is necessary for the formulation of native malolactic starter cultures well adapted to local winemaking practices and able to enhance the regional wine typicality. In this sense, molecular biology techniques are fundamental tools to decipher the native microbiome involved in MLF and to select bacterial strains with potential to function as starter cultures, given their enological and technological characteristics. In this context, this work reviews the different molecular tools (both culture-dependent and -independent) that can be applied to the study of MLF, either in bacterial isolates or in the microbial community of wine, and of its dynamics during the process.

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L. S and D. V. L.H are members of the Research Career of the Comisión de Investigaciones Científicas de Buenos Aires, Argentina. B.M.B.F, E.E.T and N.O are members of the Research Career of the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET). G. A. R and N. S. B are fellows of CONICET.


This research was funded by grants from Universidad Nacional de Quilmes (Buenos Aires, Argentina) Nº 535/19 and Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Técnica (ANPCyT) PICT 2019 N°0008.

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G. A. R and N. S. B had the idea for the article, performed the literature search, data analysis and wrote the draft. All other authors critically revised the work.

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Correspondence to Natalia Soledad Brizuela.

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Timeline of the first works that applied an innovative molecular technique to study malolactic fermentation.

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Rivas, G.A., Valdés La Hens, D., Delfederico, L. et al. Molecular tools for the analysis of the microbiota involved in malolactic fermentation: from microbial diversity to selection of lactic acid bacteria of enological interest. World J Microbiol Biotechnol 38, 19 (2022).

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