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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2001 Oct;67(10):4752-9.

Diversity of Geotrichum candidum strains isolated from traditional cheesemaking fabrications in France.

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Station de Recherches en Technologie et Analyses Laitières, INRA, 39801 Poligny, France.


The diversity of French fungus-ripened cheeses is due partly to the succession of fungi that colonize the cheese during ripening. Geotrichum candidum appears in the early stages of ripening on soft cheeses such as Camembert and semihard cheeses such as St. Nectaire and Reblochon. Its lipases and proteases promote flavor development, and its aminopeptidases reduce bitterness imparted by low-molecular-weight peptides in cheese. We assessed the genetic diversity of G. candidum strains by using random amplification of polymorphic DNA (RAPD)-PCR correlated with phenotypic tests for carbon assimilation and salt tolerance. Strains were isolated from milk, curd, and cheese collected in seven major cheesemaking regions of France. Sixty-four isolates were characterized. We found high genetic diversity of G. candidum even within the same cheesemaking regions. Strains did not group according to region. All of the strains from the Haute-Savoie were able to assimilate lactate as the sole source of carbon, while lactate assimilation varied among strains from the Auvergne. Strains varied in D-mannitol assimilation, and none used citrate as the sole source of carbon. Yeast-like colony morphology predominated in Reblochon, while all of the strains isolated from St. Nectaire were filamentous. The RAPD-PCR technique readily differentiated Geotrichum fragrans isolated from milk and curd in a St. Nectaire cheesemaking facility. This study reveals an enormous diversity of G. candidum that has been empirically selected through the centuries by the cheesemakers of France.

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