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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2013 Sep;79(17):5214-23. doi: 10.1128/AEM.00934-13. Epub 2013 Jun 21.

Facility-specific "house" microbiome drives microbial landscapes of artisan cheesemaking plants.

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Department of Viticulture and Enology, Department of Food Science and Technology, and Foods for Health Institute, University of California, Davis, California, USA.


Cheese fermentations involve the growth of complex microbial consortia, which often originate in the processing environment and drive the development of regional product qualities. However, the microbial milieus of cheesemaking facilities are largely unexplored and the true nature of the fermentation-facility relationship remains nebulous. Thus, a high-throughput sequencing approach was employed to investigate the microbial ecosystems of two artisanal cheesemaking plants, with the goal of elucidating how the processing environment influences microbial community assemblages. Results demonstrate that fermentation-associated microbes dominated most surfaces, primarily Debaryomyces and Lactococcus, indicating that establishment of these organisms on processing surfaces may play an important role in microbial transfer, beneficially directing the course of sequential fermentations. Environmental organisms detected in processing environments dominated the surface microbiota of washed-rind cheeses maturing in both facilities, demonstrating the importance of the processing environment for populating cheese microbial communities, even in inoculated cheeses. Spatial diversification within both facilities reflects the functional adaptations of microbial communities inhabiting different surfaces and the existence of facility-specific "house" microbiota, which may play a role in shaping site-specific product characteristics.

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