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Characterization of the metabolic profile and biodiversity of Aspergillus spp. and Penicillium ssp. isolated from canastra cheese


Brazil is the fourth-largest cheese producer in the world, with the state of Minas Gerais, where Serra da Canastra is located, being one of the main regions of artisanal cheese production in the country. Canastra cheese is manufactured without the heat treatment of the milk, which makes it a product prone to contamination by microorganisms, including fungi. Most studies have focused on the characterization of the artisanal cheese' microbiota, with the main effort on investigating bacteria; studies on mycobiota have mostly been neglected. Aspergillus spp. and Penicillium spp. are genera of great importance in food, harboring spoilage and potentially toxigenic species. There are some reports on the occurrence of these genera in artisanal cheeses; however, a deeper investigation characterizing the Canastra cheese biodiversity based on molecular data is still needed. Furthermore, there are few studies that have investigated the occurrence of mycotoxins in these types of cheeses, together with their mycobiota. Therefore, the objectives of the present project are to: 1) identify the Canastra cheese mycobiota during maturation, storage and marketing; 2) phylogenetically characterize the Aspergillus spp. and Penicillium spp. biodiversity and prospect the occurrence of toxigenic species in Canastra cheeses; 3) prospect the secondary metabolite profile of Aspergillus spp. and Penicillium spp. isolated from Canastra cheese; 4) investigate the occurrence of ochratoxin A and aflatoxin M1 in Canastra cheese samples and in milk used as raw material. In general, the study will focus on the Canastra cheese mycobiota and will provide an unprecedented recognition of the biodiversity and metabolic profile of the fungal populations of this food, based on modern approaches. (AU)

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