Unravelling the functionality of the cocoa bean fermentation process through a combined metagenomic and metatranscriptomic sequencing approach

Project Details


Fermented foods harbour a rich diversity of microorganisms, including lactic acid bacteria (LAB), acetic acid bacteria (AAB), yeasts and/or moulds, which play an important role in transforming the raw materials into specific end-products with innovative, functional and technological traits. The current project aims to investigate the functionality of the microbial ecosystem involved in cocoa bean fermentation, which lays at the basis of the chocolate-making process. Successful cocoa bean fermentation requires a succession of particular microbial activities, namely yeasts, LAB and AAB, which should not exceed 4 days. The heterogeneous natural cocoa bean fermentation shows great variations in microbial species and counts and metabolic compounds and concentrations. Therefore, a more in-depth insight into the ecosystem functioning is needed to know which microorganisms are doing what, in particular regarding substrate degradation and flavour biosynthesis. For instance, it is unclear whether or not different yeast species, enterobacteria and bacilli play a desirable role during cocoa bean fermentation. Hereto, advanced methodologies such as metagenomic and metatranscriptomic sequencing will be used. The knowledge obtained will allow formulating well-composed functional starter cultures that can better control and even steer cocoa bean fermentation, resulting in fermented cocoa beans with a uniform and high quality and full-flavoured chocolates produced thereof.
Effective start/end date1/10/1530/09/19


  • Fermentation

Flemish discipline codes

  • Biotechnology for agricultural, forestry, fisheries and allied sciences not elsewhere classified