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Unique bacterium related to wine spoilage

7/25/2000- Washington State University researcher Charles G. Edwards has discovered a bacterium that may hold a partial key to controlling wine fermentation and spoilage rates without the use of sulfite chemicals. Discovery of Lactobacillius nagelii came as part of Edwards' ongoing search for unidentified spoilage bacteria. With funding from the Washington Wine Advisory Committee and the Northwest Center for Small Fruit Research, Edwards' lab is screening samples from stalled fermentation batches for bacteria that inhibit the growth of yeast, the microorganism that ferments juice into wine. Lactobacillus is a genus made up of rod shaped bacteria that produce lactic acid as a product of metabolism. "They are one of the few groups of microorganisms that can grow in wine and grape juice," Edwards said. "Both of those environments are very inhospitable to most microbes." Researchers are studying Lactobacillus because they are one of the causes of "stuck," or sluggish, alcoholic fermentations sometimes encountered by winemakers. The problem is of increasing interest because many winemakers are trying to reduce or eliminate sulfite from their wines.




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