A new analysis has provided insights into the microorganisms found in cheese. Researchers at Teagasc and APC Microbiome Ireland SFI Research Centre have outlined the links between microorganisms, specific desirable and undesirable flavors and the arsenal of antimicrobials that starters and other cheese microorganisms produce to preserve cheese naturally. The study has been published in Nature Food and looked specifically at the microbiology of cheeses from around the world.

Led by Professor Paul Cotter, his team employed the most advanced DNA technologies to characterize “in great depth” the microbiology of 184 samples of cheeses from across the world, including newly studied samples from 55 kinds of cheese that were sourced from artisanal cheese producers from across Ireland.

The study also provides an intriguing insight into the battle between phage (viruses that infect bacteria) and cheese microorganisms and associated anti-phage countermeasures.

Cheesemaking stretches back millennia and cheese remains an essential component of the diet of many. Originally, cheese was made to preserve milk, with lactic acid and other by-products of growth produced by microorganisms during the fermentation process extending its shelf life and contributing to flavor, appearance and aroma.