This review summarizes current knowledge on virgin olive oil yeasts. Newly produced olive oil contains solid particles and micro drops of vegetation water in which yeasts reproduce to become the typical microbiota of olive oil. To date, about seventeen yeast species have been isolated from different types of olive oils and their by-products, of which six species have been identified as new species. Certain yeast species contribute greatly to improving the sensorial characteristics of the newly produced olive oil, whereas other species are considered harmful as they can damage the oil quality through the production of unpleasant flavors and triacylglycerol hydrolysis. Studies carried out in certain yeast strains have demonstrated the presence of defects in olive oil treated with Candida adriatica, Nakazawaea wickerhamii and Candida diddensiae specific strains, while other olive oil samples treated with other Candida diddensiae strains were defect-free after four months of storage and categorized as extra virgin. A new acetic acid producing yeast species, namely, Brettanomyces acidodurans sp. nov., which was recently isolated from olive oil, could be implicated in the wine-vinegary defect of the product. Other aspects related to the activity of the lipase-producing yeasts and the survival of the yeast species in the flavored olive oils are also discussed.
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