AIMS Microbiology, 2018, 4(4): 622-641. doi: 10.3934/microbiol.2018.4.622.

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The role of the surface smear microbiome in the development of defective smear on surface-ripened red-smear cheese

1 Laboratory of Food Microbiology, Institute of Food, Nutrition and Health, ETH Zurich, Schmelzbergstrasse 7, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland
2 Laboratory of Food Biotechnology, Institute of Food, Nutrition and Health, ETH Zurich, Schmelzbergstrasse 7, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland
3 Eurofins GATC Biotech AG, Jakob-Stadler-Platz 7, 78467 Konstanz, Germany

† These two authors contributed equally.

The complex smear microbiota colonizing the surface of red-smear cheese fundamentally impacts the ripening process, appearance and shelf life of cheese. To decipher the prokaryotic composition of the cheese smear microbiome, the surface of a semi-hard surface ripened cheese was studied post-ripening by culture-based and culture-independent molecular approaches. The aim was to detect potential bacterial alterations in the composition of the cheese smear microbiota resulting from cheese storage in vacuum film-prepackaging, which is often accompanied by the development of a surface smear defect. Next-generation sequencing of amplified 16S rRNA gene fragments revealed an unexpected high diversity of a total of 132 different genera from the domains Bacteria and Archaea on the cheese surface. Beside typical smear organisms, our study revealed the presence of several microorganisms so far not associated with cheese, but related to milk, farm and cheese dairy environments. A 16S ribosomal RNA based analysis from total RNA identified the major metabolically active populations in the cheese surface smear as Actinobacteria of the genera Corynebacterium, Brevibacterium, Brachybacterium and Agrococcus. Comparison of data on a higher phylogenetic level revealed distinct differences in the composition of the cheese smear microbiome from the different samples. While the proportions of Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes were increased in the smear of prepacked samples and in particular in defective smear, staphylococci showed an opposite trend and turned out to be strongly decreased in defective smear. In conclusion, next-generation sequencing of amplified 16S rRNA genes and 16S rRNA from total RNA extracts provided a much deeper insight into the bacterial composition of the cheese smear microbiota. The observed shifts in the microbial composition of samples from defect surface smear suggest that certain members of the Proteobacteria contribute to the observed negative organoleptic properties of the surface smear of cheese after prepacking in plastic foil.
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Keywords microbiome; next-generation sequencing; surface ripened cheese; red-smear cheese; smear defect

Citation: Jasmine S. Ritschard, Lea Amato, Yadhu Kumar, Britta Müller, Leo Meile, Markus Schuppler. The role of the surface smear microbiome in the development of defective smear on surface-ripened red-smear cheese. AIMS Microbiology, 2018, 4(4): 622-641. doi: 10.3934/microbiol.2018.4.622


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