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PLoS One. 2017 Mar 1;12(3):e0171387. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0171387. eCollection 2017.

Blue cheese-making has shaped the population genetic structure of the mould Penicillium roqueforti.

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Institut de Systématique, Évolution, Biodiversité, UMR 7205 CNRS, MNHN, UPMC, EPHE, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France.
Ecologie Systématique Evolution, Université Paris-Sud, CNRS, AgroParisTech, Université Paris-Saclay, Orsay, France.



Penicillium roqueforti is a filamentous fungus used for making blue cheeses worldwide. It also occurs as a food spoiler and in silage and wood. Previous studies have revealed a strong population genetic structure, with specific traits associated with the different populations. Here, we used a large strain collection from worldwide cheeses published recently to investigate the genetic structure of P. roqueforti.


We found a genetic population structure in P. roqueforti that was consistent with previous studies, with two main genetic clusters (W+C+ and W-C-, i.e., with and without horizontal gene transferred regions CheesyTer and Wallaby). In addition, we detected a finer genetic subdivision that corresponded to the environment and to protected designation of origin (PDO), namely the Roquefort PDO. We indeed found evidence for eight genetic clusters, one of the cluster including only strains from other environments than cheeses, and another cluster encompassing only strains from the Roquefort PDO. The W-C- and W+C+ cheese clusters were not the most closely related ones, suggesting that there may have been two independent domestication events of P. roqueforti for making blue cheeses.


The additional population structure revealed here may be relevant for cheese-makers and for understanding the history of domestication in P. roqueforti.

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