The aim of this study was to identify and characterise the predominant yeasts in Champus, a traditional Colombian cereal-based beverage with a low alcoholic content. Samples of Champus from 20 production sites in the Cauca Valley region were analysed. A total of 235 yeast isolates were identified by conventional microbiological analyses and by polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) of ITS1-5.8S rDNA-ITS2. The dominant species were: Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Issatchenkia orientalis, Pichia fermentans, Pichia kluyveri var. kluyveri, Zygosaccharomyces fermentati, Torulospora delbruekii, Galactomyces geotrichum and Hanseniaspora spp. Model Champus systems were inoculated with single strains of some isolated sporogenus species and the aromatic profiles were analysed by SPME. Analysis of data showed that Champus strains produced high amounts of esters. The aromatic compounds produced by Saccharomyces and non-Saccharomyces yeasts from Champus can exert a relevant influence on the sensory characteristics of the fermented beverage. The Champus strains could thus represent an important source for new yeast biotypes with potential industrial applications.
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