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Food Microbiology
Volume 73, 2018, Pages 342-350

Fermentation of enset (Ensete ventricosum) in the Gamo highlands of Ethiopia: Physicochemical and microbial community dynamics

A.F.Andetaa,c,d,1, D.Vandeweyera,c,1, F.Woldesenbete, F.Eshetud, A.Hailemicaeld, F.Woldeyesf, S.Crauwelsbc, B.Lievensbc, J.Ceustersa, K.Vancampenhouta, L.Van Campenhoutac

KU Leuven, Technology Cluster Bioengineering Technology, Geel, Belgium.


Enset (Ensete ventricosum) provides staple food for 15 million people in Ethiopia after fermentation into kocho. The fermentation process has hardly been investigated and is prone to optimization. The aim of this study was to investigate the physicochemical and microbial dynamics of fermentation practices in the Gamo highlands. These practices show local variation, but two steps were omnipresent: scraping of the pseudostem and fermenting it in a pit or a bamboo basket. Enset plants were fragmented and fermented for two months in order to investigate the physicochemical (temperature, moisture content, pH and titratable acidity) and microbial dynamics (total viable aerobic counts, counts of Enterobacteriaceae, lactic acid bacteria, yeasts and moulds and Clostridium spores counts, and Illumina Miseq sequencing). Samples were taken on days 1, 7, 15, 17, 31 and 60. The pH decreased, whereas the titratable acidity increased during fermentation. Of all counts those of lactic acid bacteria and Clostridium spores increased during fermentation. Leuconostoc mesenteroides initiated the fermentation. Later on, Prevotella paludivivens, Lactobacillus sp. and Bifidobacterium minimum dominated. These three species are potential candidates for the development of a starter culture.

Keywords: Enset, Kocho, Fermentation, Physicochemical analysis, Microbial counts, Metagenomics.

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