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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2012 Mar;78(6):1813-9. doi: 10.1128/AEM.06645-11. Epub 2012 Jan 13.

The composition of Camembert cheese-ripening cultures modulates both mycelial growth and appearance.

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  • 1Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods Institute (INAF), STELA Dairy Research Centre, Université Laval, Québec, Québec, Canada.


The fungal microbiota of bloomy-rind cheeses, such as Camembert, forms a complex ecosystem that has not been well studied, and its monitoring during the ripening period remains a challenge. One limitation of enumerating yeasts and molds on traditional agar media is that hyphae are multicellular structures, and colonies on a petri dish rarely develop from single cells. In addition, fungi tend to rapidly invade agar surfaces, covering small yeast colonies and resulting in an underestimation of their number. In this study, we developed a real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR) method using TaqMan probes to quantify a mixed fungal community containing the most common dairy yeasts and molds: Penicillium camemberti, Geotrichum candidum, Debaryomyces hansenii, and Kluyveromyces lactis on soft-cheese model curds (SCMC). The qPCR method was optimized and validated on pure cultures and used to evaluate the growth dynamics of a ripening culture containing P. camemberti, G. candidum, and K. lactis on the surface of the SCMC during a 31-day ripening period. The results showed that P. camemberti and G. candidum quickly dominated the ecosystem, while K. lactis remained less abundant. When added to this ecosystem, D. hansenii completely inhibited the growth of K. lactis in addition to reducing the growth of the other fungi. This result was confirmed by the decrease in the mycelium biomass on SCMC. This study compares culture-dependent and qPCR methods to successfully quantify complex fungal microbiota on a model curd simulating Camembert-type cheese.

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