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Kombucha’s Amazing Microbial Diversity

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People get pretty invested in their kombucha brews, and plenty of misinformation circulates about what kombucha is or is not. In this ongoing, always-to-be-updated post, we’ll look at the catalog of creatures that different research teams have identified when they’ve gone exploring in kombucha’s murky depths.

The Bacteria and Yeasts that Comprise Kombucha

I feel like the best way to demonstrate the range of microbes that have been identified in kombucha is to create some tables, cite the papers the species identification is from, and build as we go. New research is published all the time, and older papers that may not have been available in full become available as well. This is a “watch this space” project, and if you know of a paper I’m missing, please email a link to

We’ll start with yeasts, as there appears to be a more stable collection of yeasts. All papers cited use culture-independent (DNA analysis) methods, which provide more detailed information and a greater species count than culture-dependent methods.

Papers Cited

(1) Sequence-based analysis of the bacterial and fungal compositions of multiple kombucha (tea fungus) samples. Food Microbiology 38 (2014) Alan J. Marsh, et al

(2) Unraveling microbial ecology of industrial-scale Kombucha fermentations by metabarcoding and culture-based methods. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 93, 2017 Monika Coton, et al

(3) Metabarcoding of the kombucha microbial community grown in different microenvironments. AMB Express 5, 2015. Oleg N. Reva, et al.

(4) Kombucha Tea Fermentation: Microbial and Biochemical Dynamics. International Journal of Food Microbiology 220, 2016. Somnath Chakravorty, et al.

Kombucha Yeasts

Candida(2)(3)(4)boidinii(2), stellimalicola(4), tropicalis(4), parapsilosis(4)
Dekkera/Brettanomyces* (1)(2)(3)bruxellensis(1)(2), anomalia (1)(2)(3)
Eremothecium(4)cymbalariae(4), ashbyii(4)
Hanseniaspora(1)(2)(4)valbyensis(2), uvarum(4), meyeri(4), vineae(4)
Kazachstania(1)(4)unispora (novel)(1), telluris(4), exigua(4)
Lachancea(1)(4)fermentati(1)(4), thermotolerans(4), kluyveri(4)
Leucosporidiella(1)fragaria (novel)(1)
Meyerozyma(1)(4)caribbica(4), guilliermondii(4)
Pichia(1)(2)(3)(4)anomala(2), membranifaciens(2), fermentas(3), occidentalis(3) [non-sterile sample only], mexicana(4)
Saccharomyces(1)(2)(3)(4)uvarum(2), cerevisiae(2)(4)
Starmera(4)amethionina(4), caribaea(4)
Uncultured compost fungus(3)
Wallemia(1)sebi (novel)(1)
Zygosaccharomyces(1)(2) lentus(1), bailli(2), bisporus(1)
Zygowilliopsis(4) californica(4)

*From Wikipedia: “The genus name Dekkera is used interchangeably with Brettanomyces, as it describes the teleomorph or spore forming form of the yeast.”

Kombucha Bacteria

Acetobacter(1)Unclear. See discussion on p. 174(1), lovaniensis(2), peroxydans(2), syzygii(2), tropicalis(2)
Bifidobacterium(1)(4, liquid only)
Burkholderia(3) [non-sterile sample only]
Collinsella(4, liquid only)
Enterobacter (4, liquid only)
Enterococcus (pellicle only)(1)
Gluconobacter(2)(3)(4)cerinus(2), oxydans(2)(3)
Gluconacetobacter(1)(2)(3)liquefaciens(2), xylinus(2), oboediens(2), saccharivorans(2), intermedius(2), europaeus(2), rhaeticus(2), hansenii(2), entanii(3) [non-sterile sample only], diazotrophicus(3),
Halomonas(3)phoceae(3) [non-sterile sample only]
Herbaspirillum(3)putei(3) [non-sterile sample only]
Komagataeibacter(3)(4)xylinus(3) [formerly Acetobacter xylinum], intermedius(3), nataicola(3)
Lactobacillus(1)(2)(4, liquid only)kefiranofaciens subsp. kefirgranum(1), satsumensis(2), nagelii(2)
Lyngbya(4) [liquid only]
Ruminococcaceae Incertae Sedis(1)
Shewanella(3)algae(3) [non-sterile sample only]
Weissella(4, liquid only)

Other Papers of Note

These papers may be worthwhile for those interested in this topic, but fall out of scope because, for instance, they rely on culturing rather than more modern methods.

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