Metagenomics analysis of cocoa bean fermentation microbiome identifying species diversity and putative functional capabilities. uri icon

abstract

  • Fermentation of Theobroma cacao L. beans is the most critical stage in the production of cocoa products such as chocolates and its derivatives. There is a limited understanding of the complex response of microbial diversity during cocoa bean fermentation. The aim of the present study was to investigate microbial communities in the cocoa bean fermentation heap using a culture-independent approach to elucidate microbial diversity, structure, functional annotation and mapping unto metabolic pathways. Genomic DNA was extracted and purified from a sample of cocoa beans fermentation heap and was followed by library preparations. Sequence data was generated on Illumina Hiseq 2000 paired-end technology (Macrogen Inc). Taxonomic analysis based on genes predicted from the metagenome identified a high percentage of Bacteria (90.0%), Yeast (9%), and bacteriophages (1%) from the cocoa microbiome. Lactobacillus (20%), Gluconacetobacter (9%), Acetobacter (7%) and Gluconobacter (6%) dominated this study. The mean species diversity, measured by Shannon alpha-diversity index, was estimated at 142.81. Assignment of metagenomic sequences to SEED database categories at 97% sequence similarity identified a genetic profile characteristic of heterotrophic lactic acid fermentation of carbohydrates and aromatic amino acids. Metabolism of aromatic compounds, amino acids and their derivatives and carbohydrates occupied 0.6%, 8% and 13% respectively. Overall, these results provide insights into the cocoa microbiome, identifying fermentation processes carried out broadly by complex microbial communities and metabolic pathways encoding aromatic compounds such as phenylacetaldehyde, butanediol, acetoin, and theobromine that are required for flavour and aroma production. The results obtained will help develop targeted inoculations to produce desired chocolate flavour or targeted metabolic pathways for the selection of microbes for good aroma and flavour compounds formation.

publication date

  • 2019
  • 2019