The surface microflora (902 isolates) of Livarot cheeses from three dairies was investigated during ripening. Yeasts were mainly identified by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. Geotrichum candidum was the dominating yeast among 10 species. Bacteria were identified using Biotype 100 strips, dereplicated by repetitive extragenic palindromic PCR (rep-PCR); 156 representative strains were identified by either BOX-PCR or (GTG) 55-PCR, and when appropriate by 16S rDNA sequencing and SDS-PAGE analysis. Gram-positive bacteria accounted for 65% of the isolates and were mainly assigned to the genera Arthrobacter, Brevibacterium, Corynebacterium, and Staphylococcus. New taxa related to the genera Agrococcus and Leucobacter were found. Yeast and Gram-positive bacteria strains deliberately added as smearing agents were sometimes undetected during ripening. Thirty-two percent of the isolates were Gram-negative bacteria, which showed a high level of diversity and mainly included members of the genera Alcaligenes, Hafnia, Proteus, Pseudomonas, and Psychrobacter. Whatever the milk used (pasteurized or unpasteurized), similar levels of biodiversity were observed in the three dairies, all of which had efficient cleaning procedures and good manufacturing practices. It appears that some of the Gramnegative bacteria identified should now be regarded as potentially useful in some cheese technologies. The assessment of their positive versus negative role should be objectively examined.
- smear cheese