Characterization and Application of Autochthonous Starter Cultures for Fresh Cheese Production

Andreja Leboš Pavunc1, Jasna Beganović1*, Blaženka Kos1, Ksenija Uroić1, Marijana Blažić2 and Jagoda Šušković1

1Laboratory for Antibiotic, Enzyme, Probiotic and Starter Culture Technology, Department of
Biochemical Engineering,
 Faculty of Food Technology and Biotechnology, University of Zagreb,
Pierottijeva 6, HR-10000 Zagreb, Croatia
2Karlovac University of Applied Sciences, Trg J. J. Strossmayera 9, HR-47000 Karlovac, Croatia

Article history:

Received July 1, 2011
Accepted January 9, 2012

Key words:

autochthonous starter strains, fresh cheese, Lactobacillus fermentum, Enterococcus faecium, PCR-DGGE


The use of commercial starter cultures in fresh cheese production from pasteurized milk results in the loss of typical characteristics of artisan fresh cheese due to the replacement of complex native microbiota with a defined starter culture. Hence, the aim of this research is to isolate and characterize dominant lactic acid bacteria (LAB) in artisan fresh cheese and to evaluate their capacity as autochthonous starter cultures for fresh cheese production. Fifteen most prevalent Gram-positive, catalase-negative and asporogenous bacterial strains were selected for a more detailed characterization. Eleven lactic acid bacterial strains were determined to be homofermentative cocci and four heterofermentative lactobacilli. Further phenotypic and genotypic analyses revealed that those were two different LAB strains with high acidifying and proteolytic activity, identified as Lactobacillus fermentum A8 and Enterococcus faecium A7. These two autochthonous strains, alone or in combination with commercial starter, were used to produce different types of fresh cheese, which were evaluated by a panel. Conventional culturing, isolation, identification and PCR-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (PCR-DGGE) procedures, applied to the total fresh cheese DNA extracts, were employed to define and monitor the viability of the introduced LAB strains and their effect on the final product characteristics. Production of fresh cheese using a combination of commercial starter culture and selected autochthonous strains resulted in improved sensorial properties, which were more similar to the ones of spontaneously fermented fresh cheese than to those of cheese produced with only starter culture or selected strains. After 10 days of storage, that cheese retained the best sensorial properties in comparison with all other types of cheese. The presence of inoculated autochthonous and starter cultures and their identification was demonstrated by DGGE analysis. The obtained results indicate that autochthonous strains have a strong potential to enrich the flavour of industrially produced fresh type cheese under controlled conditions.


*Corresponding author: 
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