In Europe, starter cultures of molds are primarily used for the production of cheese and meat, and worldwide the production of a variety of indigenous foods is based on spontaneous mold fermentations (Table 10). Molds grow only in the presence of oxygen, which limits their applications. In general, molds are known as effective producers of enzymes, and their proteolytic and lipolytic activities are often high; several molds also have extracellular glycoamylase activity. Furthermore, molds are known to produce a variety of different aroma compounds, of which the best known are alcohols and organic acids. Molds preferentially grow on carbohydrates but may also grow in protein-rich media without carbohydrates, in which they use amino acids as carbon source (133). The taxonomy of molds is primarily based on their micromorphology and growth characteristics on different media, but their production of secondary metabolites can also be used as taxonomic characters (134). Unfortunately, DNA technology and the use of molecular typing techniques have not developed as fast for molds as for yeasts, and the typing of molds used as starter cultures is still based primarily on phenotypic criteria. A taxonomic description of food-borne fungi is given by Samson et al. (135).

Table 10 Examples of Mold Species Used as Starter Cultures or Occurring Spontaneously at High Numbers in Fermented Products

Fermented foods and beverages

Mold species


Cheese Meat


Indigenous fermented foods

Fermented fish

Indigenous fermented beverages

Penicillium roquefortia Penicillium camembertia Penicillium camembertia Penicillium chrysogenuma Penicillium nalgiovensea Penicillium aurantiogriseum Penicillium commune Penicillium olsonii Penicillium solitum Eurotium rubrum Botrytis cinerea Aspergillus oryzaea Aspergillus sojaea Actinomucor spp. Mucor spp. Rhizopus oligosporus Rhizopus oryzea Rhizopus spp. Aspergillus penicillioides Aspergillus wentii Eurotium rubrum Aspergillus oryzae Aspergillus spp. Mucor spp. Rhizopus spp.

Roquefort, gorgonzola,

Danish blue, Camembert Meat sausage, dry-cured ham

Sauternes, Tokay Soy sauce, tempeh, Chinese soybean paste (sufu or furu), Japanese miso and shoyu

Indonesian dried salted fish

Sake, Chinese, Indian and Thai spirits, wines and beers

Commercial starter cultures are available.

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