Polyphasic taxonomic characterization of lactic acid bacteria isolated from spontaneous sorghum fermentations used to produce ting, a traditional South African food
AbstractTing, an indigenous cooked fermented food made from sorghum flour, is consumed extensively in South Africa. Due to the spontaneous nature of the sorghum fermentation considerable variations in the sensory and microbial quality of the end-product may occur, thus hampering large-scale production of this food. The use of starter cultures purified from the fermented sorghum may be an alternative approach to obtain ting of consistent quality. The aim of this study was therefore to identify the lactic acid bacteria (LAB) associated with ting fermentation using a polyphasic approach. Phenotypic characterization and sequence analysis of the genes encoding the 16S subunit of the ribosomal RNA
(rrs) and phenylalanyl tRNA synthase (pheS) were used. The results of these analyses showed that ting fermentation involved at least three different species of LAB, i.e. Lactobacillus fermentum, L. plantarum
and L. rhamnosus. To our knowledge, this is the first report of polyphasic taxonomic characterization of LAB from this food. This research forms an essential first step towards the development of relevant starter cultures to produce ting of consistent quality.