Microbial Ecology Dynamics Reveal a Succession in the Core Microbiota Involved in the Ripening of Pasta Filata Caciocavallo Pugliese Cheese
De Pasquale I
Di Cagno R
De Angelis M
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Pyrosequencing of the 16S rRNA targeting RNA, community-level physiological profiles made with Biolog EcoPlates, proteolysis, and volatile component (VOC) analyses were mainly used to characterize the manufacture and ripening of the pasta filata cheese Caciocavallo Pugliese. Plate counts revealed that cheese manufacture affected the microbial ecology. The results agreed with those from culture-independent approaches. As shown by urea-PAGE, reverse-phase high pressure liquid chromatography (RP-HPLC), and free-amino-acid (FAA) analyses, the extent of secondary proteolysis mainly increased after 30 to 45 days of ripening. VOCs and volatile free fatty acids (VFFA) were identified by a purge-and-trap method (PT) and solid-phase microextraction (SPME) coupled with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), respectively. Except for aldehydes, the levels of most of VOCs and VFFA mainly increased from 30 to 45 days onwards. As shown through pyrosequencing analysis, raw cows' milk was contaminated by Firmicutes (53%), Proteobacteria (39%), Bacteroidetes (7.8%), Actinobacteria (0.06%), and Fusobacteria (0.03%), with heterogeneity at the genus level. The primary starter Streptococcus thermophilus dominated the curd population. Other genera occurred at low incidence or sporadically. The microbial dynamics reflected on the overall physiological diversity. At 30 days, a microbial succession was clearly highlighted. The relative abundance of Streptococcus sp. and especially St. thermophilus decreased, while that of Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus sp., and especially Lactobacillus paracasei increased consistently. Despite the lower relative abundance compared to St. thermophilus, mesophilic lactobacilli were the only organisms positively correlated with the concentration of FAAs, area of hydrophilic peptide peaks, and several VOCs (e.g., alcohols, ketones, esters and all furans). This study showed that a core microbiota was naturally selected during middle ripening, which seemed to be the main factor responsible for cheese ripening.