Authors: Mayo B. (IPLA-CSIC), Rodríguez J, Vázquez L, Flórez AB
Article published on: Foods
The cheese microbiota comprises a consortium of prokaryotic, eukaryotic and viral populations, among which lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are majority components with a prominent role during manufacturing and ripening. The assortment, numbers and proportions of LAB and other microbial biotypes making up the microbiota of cheese are affected by a range of biotic and abiotic factors. Cooperative and competitive interactions between distinct members of the microbiota may occur, with rheological, organoleptic and safety implications for ripened cheese. However, the mechanistic details of these interactions, and their functional consequences, are largely unknown. Acquiring such knowledge is important if we are to predict when fermentations will be successful and understand the causes of technological failures. The experimental use of «synthetic» microbial communities might help throw light on the dynamics of different cheese microbiota components and the interplay between them. Although synthetic communities cannot reproduce entirely the natural microbial diversity in cheese, they could help reveal basic principles governing the interactions between microbial types and perhaps allow multi-species microbial communities to be developed as functional starters. By occupying the whole ecosystem taxonomically and functionally, microbiota-based cultures might be expected to be more resilient and efficient than conventional starters in the development of unique sensorial properties.