Most known natural and industrial food fermentation processes are driven by either simple or complex communities of microorganisms. Obviously, these fermenting microbes will not only interact with the fermentable substrate but also with each other. These microbe–microbe interactions are complex but thought to be crucial for obtaining the desired product characteristics. Microbial interactions are mediated through a variety of molecular and physiological mechanisms. Examples of interaction mechanisms which have an impact on the outcome of food fermentation processes will be discussed. Finally, the technological and scientific challenges associated with the production and propagation of complex mixed starter cultures are briefly addressed. Research on the composition and functionality of complex microbial consortia is gaining momentum and will open new avenues for controlling and improving food fermentation processes, and developing new applications for mixed cultures.
- lactic-acid bacteria