Yeast community in traditional Portuguese Serpa cheese by culture-dependent and -independent DNA approaches

Maria Teresa P. Gonçalves Dos Santos, María José Benito, María de Guía Córdoba, Nuno Bartolomeu de Alvarenga, Santiago Ruiz-Moyano Seco de Herrera

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36 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigated the yeast community present in the traditional Portuguese cheese, Serpa, by culture-dependent and -independent methods. Sixteen batches of Serpa cheeses from various regional industries registered with the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) versus non-PDO registered, during spring and winter, were used. Irrespective of the producer, the yeast counts were around 5 log CFU/g in winter and, overall, were lower in spring. The yeast species identified at the end of ripening (30 days), using PCR-RFLP analysis and sequencing of the 26S rRNA, mainly corresponded to Debaryomyces hansenii and Kluyveromyces marxianus, with Candida spp. and Pichia spp. present to a lesser extent. The culture-independent results, obtained using high-throughput sequencing analysis, confirmed the prevalence of Debaryomyces spp. and Kluyveromyces spp. but, also, that Galactomyces spp. was relevant for three of the five producers, which indicates its importance during the early stages of the cheese ripening process, considering it was not found among the dominant viable yeast species. In addition, differences between the identified yeast isolated from cheeses obtained from PDO and non-PDO registered industries, showed that the lack of regulation of the cheese-making practice, may unfavourably influence the final yeast microbiota. The new knowledge provided by this study of the yeast diversity in Serpa cheese, could be used to modify the cheese ripening conditions, to favour desirable yeast species. Additionally, the prevalent yeast isolates identified, Debaryomyces hansenii and Kluyveromyces spp., may have an important role during cheese ripening and in the final sensorial characteristics. Thus, the study of their technological and functional properties could be relevant, in the development of an autochthonous starter culture, to ensure final quality and safety of the cheese.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-70
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Food Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2017


  • Cheese
  • High-throughput sequencing
  • Serpa cheese
  • Yeast population


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