Laotan Suancai, a Chinese traditional fermented vegetable, possesses a unique flavor that depends on the fermentative microbiota. However, the drivers of microbial succession and the correlation between flavor and active microbiota remain unclear. A total of 21 characteristic flavor metabolites were identified in Laotan Suancai by metabolomics, including 8 sulfides, 6 terpenes, 3 organic acids, 2 isothiocyanates, 1 ester, and 1 pyrazine. Metatranscriptome analysis revealed variations in the active microbiota at different stages of fermentation, and further analysis indicated that organic acids were the primary drivers of microbial succession. Additionally, we reconstructed the metabolic network responsible for the formation of characteristic flavor compounds and identified Companilactobacillus alimentarius, Weissella cibaria, Lactiplantibacillus plantarum, and Loigolactobacillus coryniformis as the core functional microbes involved in flavor development. This study contributed to profoundly understanding the relationship between the active microbiota and flavor quality formation, as well as the targeted selection of starters...

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