Identification of yeast strains isolated from marcha in Sikkim, a microbial starter for amylolytic fermentation.

Institute of Life Science, Ajinomoto Co., Inc., 1-1 Suzuki-cho, Kawasaki-ku, Kawasaki-shi 210-8681, Japan.
International Journal of Food Microbiology (Impact Factor: 3.43). 04/2005; 99(2):135-46. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2004.08.011
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Marcha or murcha is a traditional amylolytic starter used to produce sweet-sour alcoholic drinks, commonly called jaanr in the Himalayan regions of India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet (China). The aim of this study was to examine the microflora of marcha collected from Sikkim in India, focusing on yeast flora and their roles. Twenty yeast strains were isolated from six samples of marcha and identified by genetic and phenotypic methods. They were first classified into four groups (Group I, II, III, and IV) based on physiological features using an API test. Phylogenetic, morphological, and physiological characterization identified the isolates as Saccharomyces bayanus (Group I); Candida glabrata (Group II); Pichia anomala (Group III); and Saccharomycopsis fibuligera, Saccharomycopsis capsularis, and Pichia burtonii (Group IV). Among them, the Group I, II, and III strains produced ethanol. The isolates of Group IV had high amylolytic activity. Because all marcha samples tested contained both starch degraders and ethanol producers, it was hypothesized that all four groups of yeast (Group I, II, III, and IV) contribute to starch-based alcohol fermentation.

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    ABSTRACT: In this study, we report the characterization of traditional household starter cultures from a few ethnic groups of northeast India. Pure cultures obtained from the study have been deposited in the Microbial Type Culture Collection (MTCC), India. These isolates have been analyzed for their growth characteristics, sensitivity to temperature and pH, alcohol tolerance, alcohol production, and alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) content. The pure cultures obtained from different starter cultures revealed the presence of Debaryomyces, Wickerhamomyces, and Candida along with the fermenting yeast Saccharomyces. The growth behavior at different temperatures, pH and alcohol tolerance revealed numerous facts and behavior of the yeast strains associated with traditional alcoholic fermentation. All the isolates were found to be thermotolerant up to 37 °C, fairly pH-resistant, good in ADH secretion, and with appreciable alcohol production. For all the strains studied, the Saccharomyces cerevisiae MTCC 3976 strain from the Tea Tribes of Assam and the Wickerhamomyces anomalus MTCC 3979 from the Apatani Tribe of Arunachal Pradesh were found to be exceptional in terms of thermotolerance, alcohol tolerance, alcohol production, and ADH activity, and hence may be identified as potential strains for industrial fermentation.
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