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Review of "Dynamics of the Viral Community on the Cheese Surface during Maturation and Persistence across Production Years"

Reviewers: C Delbes (INRA) | 📘📘📘📘📘

Published onJul 01, 2024
Review of "Dynamics of the Viral Community on the Cheese Surface during Maturation and Persistence across Production Years"
key-enterThis Pub is a Review of
Dynamics of the viral community on the surface of a French smear-ripened cheese during maturation and persistence across production years
Dynamics of the viral community on the surface of a French smear-ripened cheese during maturation and persistence across production years

ABSTRACT The surface of smear-ripened cheeses constitutes a dynamic microbial ecosystem resulting from the successive development of different microbial groups such as lactic acid bacteria, fungi and ripening bacteria. Recent studies indicate that a viral community, mainly composed of bacteriophages, also represents a common and substantial part of the cheese microbiome. However, the composition of this community, its temporal variations and associations between bacteriophages and their hosts remain poorly characterized. Here, we studied a French smear-ripened cheese by both viral metagenomics and 16S metabarcoding approaches to assess both the succession of phages and bacterial communities on the cheese surface during cheese ripening, and their temporal variations in ready-to-eat cheeses over the years of production. We observed a clear transition of the phage community structure during ripening with a decreased relative abundance of viral species (vOTUs) associated with Lactococcus phages, which were replaced by vOTUs associated with phages infecting ripening bacteria such as Brevibacterium, Glutamicibacter, Pseudoalteromonas and Vibrio. The dynamics of the phage community was strongly associated with bacterial successions observed on the cheese surface. Finally, while some variations in the distribution of phages were observed in ready-to-eat cheeses produced at different dates spanning more than 4 years of production, the most abundant phages were detected throughout. This result revealed the long-term persistence of the dominant phages in the cheese production environment. Together, these findings offer novel perspectives on the ecology of bacteriophages in smear-ripened cheese and emphasize the significance of incorporating bacteriophages in the microbial ecology studies of fermented foods.IMPORTANCE The succession of diverse microbial populations is critical for ensuring the production of high-quality cheese. We observed a temporal succession of phages on the surface of a smear-ripened cheese, with new phage communities showing up at the time when ripening bacteria start covering this surface. Interestingly, the final phage community of this cheese is also consistent over large periods of time, as the same bacteriophages were found in cheese products from the same manufacturer made over 4-years. This research highlights the importance of considering these bacteriophages when studying the microbial life of fermented foods like cheese.

To read the original manuscript, click the link above.

Summary of Reviews: The reviewer found the study well-executed, emphasizing the importance of understanding phage dynamics in cheese ripening. They noted the clear presentation and strong evidence supporting the main claims about phage community transitions during ripening and the persistence of a core microbiome over time. The conclusions were considered well-supported and actionable. The reviewer pointed out the lack of analysis on the fungal community and its virome as a limitation. They highlighted the study's potential impact on the dairy sector, starter culture industry, and food policy makers, particularly in demonstrating the importance of bacteriophages in fermented food microbiology beyond lactic acid bacteria.

Reviewer 1 (Celine D…) | 📘📘📘📘📘

RR:C19 Strength of Evidence Scale Key

📕 ◻️◻️◻️◻️ = Misleading

📙📙 ◻️◻️◻️ = Not Informative

📒📒📒 ◻️◻️ = Potentially Informative

📗📗📗📗◻️ = Reliable

📘📘📘📘📘 = Strong

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