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Biodiversity of the bacterial flora on the surface of a smear cheese

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Alan Ward, Professor Michael Goodfellow


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The bacteria on the surface of a farmhouse smear-ripened cheese at four stages of ripening (4, 16, 23, and 37 days) from inoculated (i.e., deliberately inoculated with Brevibacterium linens BL2) and noninoculated (not deliberately inoculated with B. linens BL2) cheese were investigated. The results show that, contrary to accepted belief, B. linens is not a significant member of the surface flora of smear cheese and no microbial succession of species occurred during the ripening of the cheeses. Of 400 isolates made, 390 were lactate-utilizing coryneforms and 10 were coagulase-negative Staphylococcus spp. A detailed analysis of the coryneforms was undertaken using phenotypic analysis, molecular fingerprinting, chemotaxonomic techniques, and 16S rRNA gene sequencing. DNA banding profiles (ramdom amplified polymorphic DNA [RAPD]-PCR) of all the coryneform isolates showed large numbers of clusters. However, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) of the isolates from the cheeses showed that all isolates within a cluster and in many contiguous clusters were the same. The inoculated and noninoculated cheeses were dominated by single clones of novel species of Corynebacterium easel (50.2% of isolates), Corynebacterium mooreparkense (26% of isolates), and Microbactetium gubbeenense (12.8% of isolates). In addition, five of the isolates from the inoculated cheese were Corynebacterium flavescens. Thirty-seven strains were not identified but many had similar PFGE patterns, indicating that they were the same species. C. mooreparkense and C. casei grew at pH values below 4.9 in the presence of 8% NaCl, while M. gubbeenense did not grow below pH 5.8 in the presence of 5 to 10% NaCl. B. linens BL2 was not recovered from the inoculated cheese because it was inhibited by all the Staphylococcus isolates and many of the coryneforms. It was concluded that within a particular batch of cheese there was significant bacterial diversity in the microflora on the surface.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Ward AC; Goodfellow M; Brennan NM; Beresford TP; Fox PF; Cogan TM

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Applied and Environmental Microbiology

Year: 2002

Volume: 68

Issue: 2

Pages: 820-830

ISSN (print): 0099-2240

ISSN (electronic): 1098-5336

Publisher: American Society for Microbiology


DOI: 10.1128/AEM.68.2.820-830.2002


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