Genomics Applied to Cheeses

Project entitled:

Industrial Research Chair in Cheese Technology and Typicity

Denis Roy, Steve Labrie, Gisèle Lapointe, Sylvie Turgeon, Daniel St-Gelais


Producing cheeses such as Cheddar, Camembert, mozzarella and Swiss of consistent quality on an industrial scale is a central concern for cheese makers. Understanding the factors that cause variability in technological and organoleptic properties would enable a better control of the product and limit economic losses. The biochemical and metabolic activity of lactic ferments and secondary flora have an impact on the organoleptic qualities of cheeses. To meet the challenge of improving cheese quality, the Industrial Research Chair focused on developing an innovative approach to studying cheese making and ripening—first by advancing technological knowledge on cheese and then by expanding knowledge on the expression of cheese-related microbial metabolism through implementing a research field based around “omic” methods. The Chair helped consolidate a centre of expertise and knowledge on cheese and bacterial and fungal cultures in addition to training highly skilled future professionals who will form the next generation in industry and research. The main results were obtaining the typological profile of four types of cheese during ripening to better understand the direct relationship between a cheese’s composition and its final properties, and an in-depth analysis of the evolution of various microbial species present in cheese during the aging process to fully understand their contribution to the aging of Cheddar and Camembert. This information will help guide the dairy industry in its efforts to control the effects of various microbial communities on the organoleptic characteristics of the finished product.