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Yeast. 2019 Mar;36(3):129-141. doi: 10.1002/yea.3368. Epub 2019 Jan 24.

Cheese yeasts.

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Agroscope, Bern, Switzerland.


Numerous traditionally aged cheeses are surface ripened and develop a biofilm, known as the cheese rind, on their surfaces. The rind of such cheeses comprises a complex community of bacterial and fungal species that are jointly responsible for the typical characteristics of the various cheese varieties. Surface ripening starts directly after brining with the rapid colonization of the cheese surface by yeasts. The initially dominant yeasts are acid and salt-tolerant and are capable of metabolizing the lactate produced by the starter lactic acid bacteria and of producing NH3 from amino acids. Both processes cause the pH of the cheese surface to rise dramatically. This so-called deacidification process enables the establishment of a salt-tolerant, Gram-positive bacterial community that is less acid-tolerant. Over the past decade, knowledge of yeast diversity in cheeses has increased considerably. The yeast species with the highest prevalence on surface-ripened cheeses are Debaryomyces hansenii and Geotrichum candidum, but up to 30 species can be found. In the cheese core, only lactose-fermenting yeasts, such as Kluyveromyces marxianus, are expected to grow. Yeasts are recognized as having an indispensable impact on the development of cheese flavour and texture because of their deacidifying, proteolytic, and/or lipolytic activity. Yeasts are used not only in the production of surface-ripened cheeses but also as adjunct cultures in the vat milk in order to modify ripening behaviour and flavour of the cheese. However, yeasts may also be responsible for spoilage of cheese, causing early blowing, off-flavour, brown discolouration, and other visible alterations of cheese.


Debaryomyces hansenii; Geotrichum candidum; Kluyveromyces marxianus; Yarrowia lipolytica; cheese; yeast

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