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Biodiversity and anti-listerial activity of surface microbial consortia
from limburger, reblochon, livarot, tilsit and gubbeen cheese

Contract number : QLK1-2001-02228
Contract type : Shared Cost Project
Total cost : € 2.290.595
EC contribution : € 1.694.680
Starting date : not yet determined
Duration : 36 Months
Scientific Officer : Antonio di Giulio
Project website : not yet available
Dr Tim Cogan
Dairy Products Research Centre
Tel.: +3532542222
Fax: +3532542340
E-mail: tcogan @

Little is known about the microbial ecology of the surface flora, which develops on smear cheeses during ripening, and which is considered to be composed of several different species of bacteria and yeasts. The growth of the yeast results in an increase in the pH of the surface layer of the cheese which, in turn, allows growth of spoilage and pathogenic bacteria, particularly, Listeria monocytogenes to occur. Such cheeses support growth of listeria and have been implicated in listeriosis. This has obvious implications for the health of consumers. Some strains of brevibacteria from the surface of smear cheese have been shown to produce bacteriocins but this only reduce the growth of listeria by 1-2 log cycles. Whether yeast also inhibit listeria has not been studied.


Very little is known about the microbial ecology of the surface flora of smear cheeses. These cheeses support growth of listeria and they have been implicated in listeriosis and death. This has obvious implications for human health. In this project we will: 1) characterise the surface microflora (both yeast and bacteria) of Limburger, Reblochon, Livarot, Tilsit and Gubbeen cheese using chemotaxonomic and molecular methods, to determine if the floras are the same or different. It is expected that several new taxa of yeast and bacteria will be described. 2) identify strains of yeast which have anti-listerial activity and which do not inhibit the growth of other bacteria in the smear, 3) show that they are useful in controlling growth of listeria in commercially made cheeses and 4) identify the inhibitor produced by the yeast.

(expected) Results and achievements

The microflora of five European smear cheeses will be characterised. It is expected that several new species of yeast and bacteria will be described. Yeasts that inhibit the development of L. monocytogenes in commercial cheese will be identified and evaluated in commercial cheese production. Such yeasts will control the growth of listeria in the cheese and have no effect on the development of the smear bacteria. Thus, these cheeses will be safer to eat.


Bundesanstalt für Alpenländische Milchwirtschaft
Abteilung Kulturen
Rotholz 50A
6200 Rotholz
Université de Caen Basse-Normandie
Laboratoire de Microbiologie Alimentaire
Esplanade de la Paix
14032 Caen Cedex
Laboratoire de Génie et Microbiologie des Procédés Alimentaires
147, rue de l'Université
75338 Paris
The University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Department of Agricultural and Environmental Science
King George VI Building
Queen Victoria Road
NE1 7RU Newcastle-upon-Tyne
United Kingdom
Universiteit Gent
Laboratorium voor Microbiologie
Vakgroep Biochemie, Fysiologie en Microbiologie
K.L. Ledeganckstraat 35
9000 Gent
Technische Universität München
Forschungszentrum für Milch und Lebensmittel Weihenstephan
Institut für Mikrobiologie
Weihenstephaner Berg 3
85354 Freising-Weihenstephan
Institut Technique Français des Fromages
419, Route des Champs Laitiers
PO Box 30
74801 La-Roche-sur-Foron Cedex
Syndicat des Fabricants de Pont L'Evêque et de Livarot
82, Rue de Bernières
14000 Caen
Syndicat Interprofessionnel du Reblochon
Rue Saint Blaise
PO Box 55
74230 Thônes
Tirol Milch Reg.Gen.m.b.H.
Latellaplatz 1
6300 Wörgl
J.Bauer KG
Tegernau 2
PO Box 1160
83512 Wasserburg am Inn

Fifth Framework Programme

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