This study resulted in the identification of pectinolytic yeasts in directly brined Sicilian-style green olive fermentations and examination of the influence of those yeasts on the microbial composition and quality of fermented olives. Firstly, defective olives processed in Northern California from 2007 to 2008 and characterized by high levels of mesocarp tissue degradation were found to contain distinct yeast and bacterial populations according to DNA sequence-based analyses. Strains of (pectinolytic) Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Pichia manshurica, Pichia kudriavzevii, and Candida boidinii isolated from directly brined olives were then inoculated into laboratory-scale olive fermentations to quantify the effects of individual yeast strains on the olives. The pH, titratable acidity, and numbers of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and yeasts varied between the fermentations and fermentations inoculated with P. kudriavzevii and C. boidinii promoted the development of LAB populations. Olive tissue structural integrity declined significantly within 30, 74, and 192 days after the inoculation of pectinolytic S. cerevisiae, P. manshurica and C. boidinii, respectively. In comparison, tissue integrity of olives in control fermentations remained intact although pectinolytic yeasts were present. Notably, pectinolytic yeasts were not found in fermentations inoculated with (non-pectinolytic) P. kudriavzevii and olives exposed to a 1:1 ratio of P. kudriavzevii and P. manshurica exhibited no significant tissue defects. This study showed that pectinolytic yeast are important components of directly brined green olive fermentations and damage caused by pectinolytic yeasts might be prevented by other microbial colonists of the olives.CI - Copyright (c) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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