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PLoS One. 2014 Dec 15;9(12):e114280. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0114280. eCollection 2014.

Detection and viability of Lactococcus lactis throughout cheese ripening.

Author information

1
Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie, Forestali e Alimentari, Università degli Studi di Torino, Grugliasco, Italy.

Abstract

Recent evidences highlighted the presence of Lactococcus lactis during late cheese ripening. For this reason, the role of this microorganism, well known as dairy starter, should be reconsidered throughout cheese manufacturing and ripening. Thus, the main objective of this study was to develop a RT-qPCR protocol for the detection, quantification and determination of the viability of L. lactis in ripened cheese samples by direct analysis of microbial nucleic acids. Standard curves were constructed for the specific quantification of L. lactis in cheese matrices and good results in terms of selectivity, correlation coefficient and efficiency were obtained. Thirty-three ripened cheeses were analyzed and, on the basis of RNA analysis, twelve samples showed 106 to 108 CFU of L. lactis per gram of product, thirteen from 103 to 105 CFU/g, and in eight cheeses, L. lactis was not detected. Traditional plating on M17 medium led to loads ranging from 105 to 109 CFU/g, including the cheese samples where no L. lactis was found by RT-qPCR. From these cheeses, none of the colonies isolated on M17 medium was identified as L. lactis species. These data could be interpreted as a lack of selectivity of M17 medium where colony growth is not always related to lactococcal species. At the same time, the absence or low abundance of L. lactis isolates on M17 medium from cheese where L. lactis was detected by RT-qPCR support the hypothesis that L. lactis starter populations are mainly present in viable but not culturable state during ripening and, for this reason, culture-dependent methods have to be supplemented with direct analysis of cheese.

PMID:
25503474
PMCID:
PMC4266610
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0114280
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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