Cassava roots and leaves constitute energy-rich and protein-rich foods, respectively, for the populations in Central Africa, where they are consumed as staple foods. But cassava roots and leaves contain some cyanide in the form of cyanogenic glucosides, notably the linamarine, which can constitute a poison for the consumers when roots or leaves are processed improperly. Cassava roots and leaves processing in Congo, as in most central African countries, involve fermentation. The fermentation of the cassava roots is a lactic fermentation (pH 3.8) with Lactobacillus as dominant microflora whereas that of the cassava leaves is an alkaline fermentation (pH 8.5) where Bacillus constitute the main microflora. The hydrolysis of cyanogenic glucosides takes place as well in acid medium during the cassava tubers fermentation as in basic medium with the cassava leaves fermentation. The cyanide content decreases during the fermentation of cassava roots and leaves by more than 70% through the activities of the bacterial produced linamarase, allowing the hydrolysis of cyanogenic glucosides. Certain lactic bacteria present in the environment of fermentation are resistant to the strong cyanide concentrations of between 200 and 800 ppm.
Key words: Fermentation, cassava roots, cassava leaves, lactic acid bacteria, bacillus, cyanogenic glucosides.
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