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Physiology of Acetic Acid Bacteria and Their Role in Vinegar and Fermented Beverages

Lynch, Kieran M., Zannini, Emanuele, Wilkinson, Stuart, Daenen, Luk, Arendt, Elke K.
Comprehensive reviews in food science and food safety 2019 v.18 no.3 pp. 587-625
Gluconobacter oxydans, acetic acid, acetic acid bacteria, ascorbic acid, beers, beverage industry, consumer demand, ethanol, fermentation, guidelines, kefir, kombucha, oxidation, starter cultures, vinegars
Acetic acid bacteria (AAB) have, for centuries, been important microorganisms in the production of fermented foods and beverages such as vinegar, kombucha, (water) kefir, and lambic beer. Their unique form of metabolism, known as “oxidative” fermentation, mediates the transformation of a variety of substrates into products, which are of importance in the food and beverage industry and beyond; the most well‐known of which is the oxidation of ethanol into acetic acid. Here, a comprehensive review of the physiology of AAB is presented, with particular emphasis on their importance in the production of vinegar and fermented beverages. In addition, particular reference is addressed toward Gluconobacter oxydans due to its biotechnological applications, such as its role in vitamin C production. The production of vinegar and fermented beverages in which AAB play an important role is discussed, followed by an examination of the literature relating to the health benefits associated with consumption of these products. AAB hold great promise for future exploitation, both due to increased consumer demand for traditional fermented beverages such as kombucha, and for the development of new types of products. Further studies on the health benefits related to the consumption of these fermented products and guidelines on assessing the safety of AAB for use as microbial food cultures (starter cultures) are, however, necessary in order to take full advantage of this important group of microorganisms.