Microbial Dynamics of a Specialty Italian Raw Ewe’s Milk Cheese Curdled with Extracts from Spontaneous and Cultivated Onopordum tauricum Willd
Rampanti, G., Belleggia, L., Cardinali, F., Milanović, V., Osimani, A., Garofalo, C., Ferrocino, I., and Aquilanti, L. 2023. Microbial Dynamics of a Specialty Italian Raw Ewe’s Milk Cheese Curdled with Extracts from Spontaneous and Cultivated Onopordum tauricum Willd. 2023. Microorganisms, 11(1), 219. https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms11010219
Abstract: Milk coagulants prepared by maceration of flowers harvested from both spontaneous and cultivated Onopordum tauricum Willd. and a commercially available coagulant obtained from Cynara cardunculus L. (control) were assayed for small-scale manufacturing of Caciofiore, an Italian specialty raw ewe’s milk cheese produced in a family run dairy farm located in the Marche region (Central Italy). The microbiota of the three thistle-based milk coagulants and their effect on the microbial dynamics of raw milk cheeses during fermentation and maturation (from day 0 up until day 60) were investigated through a combined approach based on viable counting and Illumina DNA sequencing. In both the control and experimental cheeses, despite the slight differences emerged depending on the coagulant used, Lactococcus lactis and Debaryomyces hansenii were the prevalent species among bacteria and fungi, respectively. Moreover, raw ewe’s milk was the main factor affecting the evolution of both the bacterial and fungal microbiota in all cheeses. The overall similarities between control and experimental cheeses herein analyzed supports the exploitation of Onopordum tauricum Willd. as an alternative milk coagulating agent for production of Caciofiore and, more in general, raw ewe’s milk cheeses.
Keywords: Caciofiore cheese; vegetable rennet; thistle rennet; Onopordum tauricum Willd.; microbial
dynamics; Illumina DNA sequencing