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Int J Food Microbiol. 2014 Aug 18;185:127-35. doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2014.05.021. Epub 2014 Jun 2.

rRNA-based monitoring of the microbiota involved in Fontina PDO cheese production in relation to different stages of cow lactation.

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Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie, Forestali e Alimentari, Università degli Studi di Torino, via L. da Vinci 44, 10095 Grugliasco, TO, Italy.
Dipartimento di Agraria, Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, via Università 100, 80055 Portici, Italy.


Fontina Protected Denomination of Origin (PDO) cheese is a full-fat semi-cooked cheese traditionally made in Northwest Italy (Aosta Valley) and manufactured from raw cow's milk. The management of cattle farms in Aosta Valley calls for seasonal migration to high pastures during the summer and the concentration of calving during the autumn and the beginning of the winter. Based on cattle physiology and given to calving seasonality, three cow lactation phases i.e. post-partum, oestrus and early gestation, can be identified and an effect could be hypothesized on average milk composition and on cheese quality. The aim of the present paper was to investigate the bacterial dynamics during Fontina PDO cheese manufacturing and ripening, in relation to the different lactation stages, in order to evaluate a possible correlation between microbiota and phase of lactation. For this purpose, microbial RNA analysis was carried out by RT-PCR coupled with DGGE and high-throughput sequencing. A good performance of the starter cultures was highlighted throughout Fontina PDO manufacturing and ripening; in fact, the starter prevailed against the autochthonous microbiota. Thus, the microbial activity, which was supposed to affect the final quality of Fontina PDO cheese, appeared to be strictly associated to the presence of the starter, which did not show any difference in its performance according to the different stages of cow lactation. Therefore, the results of this research highlighted a negligible correlation between the microbiota of raw milk and the organoleptic quality and typicity of Fontina cheese in relation to lactation seasonality.


Fontina PDO cheese; Lactation; Microbiota; Pyrosequencing; RNA; RT-PCR–DGGE

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