Microbiome vs Microbiota
The microbiome is defined as a characteristic microbial community occupying a reasonable well-defined habitat which has distinct physio-chemical properties. The microbiome not only refers to the microorganisms involved but also encompass their theatre of activity, which results in the formation of specific ecological niches. The microbiota consists of the assembly of microorganisms belonging to different kingdoms (Prokaryotes [Bacteria, Archaea], Eukaryotes [e.g., Protozoa, Fungi, and Algae]), while “their theatre of activity” includes microbial structures, metabolites, mobile genetic elements (e.g., transposons, phages, and viruses), and relic DNA embedded in the environmental conditions of the habitat.
By definition, fermented foods are “foods and beverages made through desired microbial growth and enzymatic conversions of food components”. In simple terms this means that a food substrate, coming from plants or animals, undergoes controlled microbial growth and fermentation. Fermentation is a metabolic process in which microorganisms, either naturally present in the food or added, break down complex nutrients present in the food into simpler components. This brings about a desirable change in the taste, texture, digestibility and durability of the food. Today, it is estimated that more than 5,000 varieties of fermented foods and beverages are produced and consumed globally, with characteristic differences from region to region that depend on local traditions, conditions and availability of raw materials.