Spontaneous organic cocoa bean box fermentations were carried out on two different farms in Brazil. Physical parameters, microbial growth, bacterial species diversity [mainly lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and acetic acid bacteria (AAB)], and metabolite kinetics were monitored, and chocolates were produced from the fermented dry cocoa beans. The main end-products of the catabolism of the pulp substrates (glucose, fructose, and citric acid) by yeasts, LAB, and AAB were ethanol, lactic acid, mannitol, and/or acetic acid. Lactobacillus fermentum and Acetobacter pasteurianus were the predominating bacterial species of the fermentations as revealed through (GTG)(5)-PCR fingerprinting of isolates and PCR-DGGE of 16S rRNA gene PCR amplicons of DNA directly extracted from fermentation samples. Fructobacillus pseudoficulneus, Lactobacillus plantarum, and Acetobacter senegalensis were among the prevailing species during the initial phase of the fermentations. Also, three novel LAB species were found. This study emphasized the possible participation of Enterobacteriaceae in the cocoa bean fermentation process. Tatumella ptyseos and Tatumella citrea were the prevailing enterobacterial species in the beginning of the fermentations as revealed by 16S rRNA gene-PCR-DGGE. Finally, it turned out that control over a restricted bacterial species diversity during fermentation through an ideal post-harvest handling of the cocoa beans will allow the production of high-quality cocoa and chocolates produced thereof, independent of the fermentation method or farm.
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