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Colehour A, Meadow JF, Cepon-Robins TJ, Gildner TE, Liebert MA, Urlacher SS, Bohannan BJM, Snodgrass JJ, Sugiyama LS. (2014) Local domestication of microbes via cassava beer fermentation. PeerJ PrePrints2:e233v1https://doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.233v1
Cassava beer, or chicha, is typically consumed daily by the indigenous Shuar people of the Ecuadorian Amazon. This traditional beverage made from cassava tuber (Manihot esculenta) improves nutritional quality and flavor while extending shelf life in a tropical climate. Bacteria responsible for chicha fermentation could be a source of microbes beneficial to human health, but little is known regarding the microbiology of chicha. We investigated bacterial community composition of chicha batches using Illumina high-throughput sequencing. Fermented chicha samples were collected from seven Shuar households in two neighboring villages in the Morona-Santiago region of Ecuador, and the composition of the bacterial communities within each chicha sample was determined by sequencing a region of the 16S ribosomal gene. Members of the genus Lactobacillus dominated all samples, demonstrating that chicha is a source of organisms related to known probiotics. Significantly greater taxonomic similarity was observed between communities in chicha samples taken within a village than those from different villages. Community composition varied among chicha samples, even those separated by short geographic distances, suggesting that ecological and/or evolutionary processes, including human preference, may be responsible for creating locally adapted and regionally resilient ferments. Our results suggest that traditional fermentation may be a form of domestication that provides endemic beneficial inocula for consumers.
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