Table_3_The Interrelationship Between Microbiota and Peptides During Ripening as a Driver for Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese Quality.DOCX
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Cheese microbiota contribute significantly to the final characteristics of cheeses due to the growth and interaction between cheese microorganisms during processing and ripening. For raw milk cheeses, such as Parmigiano Reggiano (PR), the microbiota derive from the raw milk itself, the dairy environment, and the starter. The process of cheese making and time of ripening shape this complex ecosystem through the selection of different species and biotypes that will drive the quality of the final product by performing functions of their metabolism such as proteolysis. The diversity in the final peptide and amino acid composition of the cheese is thus mostly linked to the diversity of this microbiota. The purpose of this study was to get more insight into the factors affecting PR cheese diversity and, more specifically, to evaluate whether the composition of the bacterial community of cheeses along with the specific peptide composition are more affected by the ripening times or by the cheese making process. To this end, the microbiota and the peptide fractions of 69 cheese samples (from curd to cheese ripened 24 months) were analyzed during 6 complete PR production cycles, which were performed in six different dairies located in the PR production area. The relation among microbial dynamics, peptide evolution, and ripening times were investigated in this unique and tightly controlled production and sampling set up. The study of microbial and peptide moieties in products from different dairies – from curd to at least 12 months, the earliest time from which the cheese can be sold, and up to a maximum of 24 months of ripening – highlighted the presence of differences between samples coming from different dairies, probably due to small differences in the cheese making process. Besides these differences, however, ripening time had by far the greatest impact on microbial dynamics and, consequently, on peptide composition.
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