Culture-dependent and culture-independent methods were combined for the investigation of acetic acid bacteria (AAB) populations in traditionally produced vinegars and mother of vinegar samples obtained from apple and grape. The culture-independent denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) analysis, which targeted the V7-V8 regions of the 16S rRNA gene, showed that Komagataeibacter hansenii and Komagataeibacter europaeus/Komagataeibacter xylinus were the most dominant species in almost all of the samples analyzed directly. The culture-independent GTG(5)-rep PCR fingerprinting was used in the preliminary characterization of AAB isolates and species-level identification was carried out by sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene, 16S-23S rDNA internally transcribed to the spacer (ITS) region and tufgene. Acetobacter okinawensis was frequently isolated from samples obtained from apple while K. europaeus was identified as the dominant species, followed by Acetobacter indonesiensis in the samples originating from grape. In addition to common molecular techniques, real-time PCR intercalating dye assays, including DNA melting temperature (Tm) and high resolution melting analysis (HEM), were applied to acetic acid bacterial isolates for the first time. The target sequence of ITS region generated species-specific HEM profiles and Tm values allowed discrimination at species level. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.