Changes in extractable phenolic profile during natural fermentation of wheat, sorghum and teff. Academic Article uri icon


  • Whole grain polyphenols are associated with structure-specific bioactive properties. However, the phenolic profile of grain ingredients can be significantly altered by processes like fermentation. This study investigated how polyphenol profiles in different cereal grains respond to microbial metabolism during sourdough fermentation. Whole grain wheat (white and red), sorghum (white and lemon-yellow), and teff (white and brown) flours were subjected to natural sourdough fermentation for 48-96h, and phenolic profiles and their metabolites monitored using UPLC-tandem quadrupole MS. Flavonoid O-glycosides (dominant in sorghum) were rapidly metabolized (66% reduction in 48h) to release aglycones (2.5 fold increase). O-Glycoside groups in mixed O/C-glycosides (dominant in teff) were selectively hydrolyzed, but more slowly (11-32% reduction in 48h) than homo-O-glycosides, suggesting steric hindrance from the C-glycoside groups. Flavonoid C-glycosides (dominant in wheat) and aglycones (white sorghum) were generally stable to microbial degradation. Extractable phenolic acids and their esters (most abundant in white sorghum) were extensively degraded (80% reduction in 48h) with few metabolites detected at the end of fermentation. Thus, extractable phenolics in sorghum were generally most extensively metabolized, whereas those in wheat were the least impacted by sourdough fermentation. New microbial metabolites, putatively identified as O-methylcatechol-vinyl-isoflavans, were detected in all fermented samples, with levels increasing with fermentation time. Based on structure, these compounds were likely derived from cell wall C-C linked diferulic acid metabolism. As expected, Folin reactive phenols and antioxidant capacity increased in fermented samples, but the extent was distinctly smaller in sorghums (1.3-1.9 fold) vs teff (2.4-3.2 fold) and wheat (2.0-6.1 fold), likely due to higher presence of easily metabolizable phenolics in sorghum. The phenolic profile of a cereal grain affects the products of microbial metabolism during fermentation, and may thus alter phenolic-dependent bioactive properties associated with a specific grain.

published proceedings

  • Food Res Int

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Ravisankar, S., Dizlek, H., & Awika, J. M.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Ravisankar, Shreeya||Dizlek, Halef||Awika, Joseph M

publication date

  • July 2021