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Homofermentative Bacteria vs. Heterofermentative Bacteria: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on February 8, 2024
Homofermentative Bacteria is a bacteria that ferment sugars primarily to lactic acid. Heterofermentative Bacteria is a bacteria that produce a mixture of products, including lactic acid, ethanol, and CO2, from sugar fermentation.

Key Differences

Homofermentative bacteria metabolize sugars mainly to lactic acid through a process called glycolysis, producing a single type of end-product. Heterofermentative bacteria, in contrast, use the phosphoketolase pathway and generate a mix of fermentation products like lactic acid, ethanol, acetic acid, and carbon dioxide.
In homofermentative fermentation, there's a direct conversion of glucose to lactic acid, which is efficient in terms of energy yield. Heterofermentative bacteria have a more complex fermentation pathway, resulting in a variety of products and often less energy-efficient conversion of glucose.
Homofermentative bacteria are often used in the dairy industry to produce products like yogurt and some cheeses, where a consistent acid production is desired. Heterofermentative bacteria are used in more diverse fermentations, like in the production of sourdough bread, where multiple end-products contribute to flavor and texture.
Examples of homofermentative bacteria include Lactobacillus acidophilus and Streptococcus thermophilus. Heterofermentative bacteria include species like Leuconostoc mesenteroides and Lactobacillus brevis, known for their varied metabolic capabilities.
The choice between using homofermentative and heterofermentative bacteria in industrial processes depends on the desired product characteristics. Homofermentative bacteria are preferred for their efficiency and consistency, while heterofermentative bacteria are chosen for their ability to create complex flavors and textures.

Comparison Chart

Fermentation Pathway

Phosphoketolase pathway

End Products

Primarily lactic acid
Lactic acid, ethanol, CO2, and others

Energy Efficiency

More efficient
Less energy-efficient

Industrial Use

Dairy products like yogurt
Diverse, like sourdough bread


Lactobacillus acidophilus, Streptococcus thermophilus
Leuconostoc mesenteroides, Lactobacillus brevis

Homofermentative Bacteria and Heterofermentative Bacteria Definitions

Homofermentative Bacteria

Bacteria that ferment glucose primarily into lactic acid.
Lactobacillus acidophilus, used in yogurt making, is a homofermentative bacterium.

Heterofermentative Bacteria

Bacteria producing multiple products from sugar fermentation.
Heterofermentative bacteria like Leuconostoc mesenteroides are used in sauerkraut fermentation.

Homofermentative Bacteria

Characterized by a straightforward metabolic process.
Homofermentative bacteria are preferred in processes where a singular byproduct is desired.

Heterofermentative Bacteria

Less energy-efficient but more versatile in product formation.
The versatility of heterofermentative bacteria makes them suitable for varied fermentation industries.

Homofermentative Bacteria

Microorganisms utilizing the glycolytic pathway for fermentation.
Homofermentative bacteria are key in the consistent production of certain cheeses.

Heterofermentative Bacteria

Utilizes the phosphoketolase pathway in metabolism.
The diverse products of heterofermentative bacteria enhance the flavor of sourdough bread.

Homofermentative Bacteria

Produces a single main fermentation product.
The production of pickles often employs homofermentative bacteria for lactic acid generation.

Heterofermentative Bacteria

Generates a mix of lactic acid, ethanol, and CO2.
Heterofermentative bacteria contribute to the complex taste and texture in certain fermented foods.

Homofermentative Bacteria

Used in industries for efficient and predictable acid production.
Homofermentative bacteria's efficiency is exploited in the fermentation of dairy products.

Heterofermentative Bacteria

Creates complex flavors and textures in food products.
Heterofermentative bacteria are chosen for their ability to add depth to fermented beverages.


Are homofermentative bacteria energy-efficient?

Yes, they are more efficient in converting glucose to lactic acid.

What are homofermentative bacteria?

Bacteria that mainly produce lactic acid from sugar fermentation.

What fermentation pathway do heterofermentative bacteria use?

The phosphoketolase pathway.

What are heterofermentative bacteria?

Bacteria that generate a variety of products including lactic acid, ethanol, and CO2.

Which pathway do homofermentative bacteria use?

The glycolytic pathway.

What products do heterofermentative bacteria generate?

Lactic acid, ethanol, CO2, and sometimes acetic acid.

What is a common use of homofermentative bacteria?

In the dairy industry for yogurt and cheese production.

What flavors do heterofermentative bacteria add to food?

They contribute complex flavors and textures.

Is Leuconostoc mesenteroides heterofermentative?

Yes, it's a heterofermentative bacterium.

Do heterofermentative bacteria produce more than one product?

Yes, they produce multiple fermentation products.

Can homofermentative bacteria produce ethanol?

No, they primarily produce lactic acid.

What role do heterofermentative bacteria play in winemaking?

They can contribute to the complex flavor profile of some wines.

Can homofermentative bacteria be used in beer production?

Generally no, as they don't produce ethanol.

Are heterofermentative bacteria used in dairy products?

They can be used, but are more common in other types of fermentations.

Are homofermentative bacteria used in bread making?

Not typically, as they don't produce the gases needed for bread leavening.

Do homofermentative bacteria produce CO2?

No, they primarily produce lactic acid.

Where are heterofermentative bacteria commonly used?

In diverse fermentations like sourdough bread and sauerkraut.

What's the main product of homofermentative fermentation?

Lactic acid.

Can heterofermentative bacteria enhance food texture?

Yes, through the production of gases and acids.

Is Lactobacillus acidophilus homofermentative?

Yes, it's a homofermentative bacterium.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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