There is actually a "International Journal of Food Microbiology"
As in the previous paper, as the fermentation process progressed, LAB (particularly Leuconostoc, Lactobacillus, and Weissella) quickly came to dominate the community. The total number of bacteria present increased by more than a thousandfold and the acidity increased from slightly alkaline to strongly acidic (<pH 4.3). However, different species of these lactic acid bacteria dominated depending on the set of ingredients used; after 30 days, some kimchis were dominated by Weissella, some by Leuconostoc, and some had significant proportions of multiple different LAB. The team concludes that different strains of LAB may be more or less competitive, and that in order to get a truly consistent fermention, and a standardized kimchi “with good taste and high quality…starter culture may be surely necessitated.”
Practical ImplicationsThe original paper looked more at the effect of hot pepper in the mix
Once again, the results of this paper demonstrate the power of natural fermentation to select for beneficial and useful microbes from amongst the motley crew of bacterial species present in variable raw materials. The low final pH of kimchi is very strongly selective for LAB, which probably accounts for the fact that no commercial starter cultures have been required or developed for this extremely popular food, even up to now.
At the beginning of the fermentations, there were a large number of bacteria present (between 10^4 and 10^5), representing a very high diversity of organisms (including significant amounts of spoilage and ‘undesirable’ organisms, such as Enterobacteriaceae and Pseudomonas). The process by which useful microorganisms come to dominate the mixture and exclude the undesirables is a fascinating and important one. While many of the organisms present at the beginning do not survive the fermentation, it would be interesting to know where they are coming from (what proportion from solar salt? spices? the vegetables themselves?), and if any of their metabolites or enzymes affect the flavours of the finished kimchi, even if the organisms themselves are long gone by then.http://microbialfoods.org/science-digested-can-microbes-take-peppery-heat-effects-red-pepper-powder-kimchi-fermentation/
This is a tough read, very scientific and specialized.