Click For Photo: https://scx2.b-cdn.net/gfx/news/hires/2019/penicillium.jpg
Penicillium sp. (stained, under the microscope). Credit: Peter Halasz, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.
The flavors of fermented foods are heavily shaped by the fungi that grow on them, but the evolutionary origins of those fungi aren't well understood. Experimental findings published this week in mBio offer microbiologists a new view on how those molds evolve from wild strains into the domesticated ones used in food production.
Paper - Microbiologists - Penicillium - Molds - Matter
In the paper, microbiologists report that wild-type Penicillium molds can evolve quickly so that after a matter of weeks these strains closely resembled their domesticated cousin, Penicillium camemberti, the mold that gives camembert cheese its distinctive flavor. The study shows how a fungus can remodel its metabolism over a short amount of time; it also demonstrates a strategy for probing the evolution of other cultures used in food, said study leader and microbiologist Dr. Benjamin Wolfe, Ph.D.
"In fermented foods, there's a lot of potential for microbes to evolve and change over time," said Wolfe.
Wolfe - Lab - Tufts - University - Medford
Wolfe's lab at Tufts University in Medford, Mass., focuses on microbial diversity in fermented foods, but he says the new experiments began with an accidental discovery. His lab had been growing and studying Penicillium commune, a bluish, wild-type fungus well-known for spoiling cheese and other foods. Wolfe likens its smell to a damp basement.
But over time, researchers noticed changes in some of the lab dishes containing the stinky mold. "Over a very short time, that funky, blue, musty-smelling fungus stopped making toxins," Wolfe said. The cultures lost their bluish hue and...
Wake Up To Breaking News!
True or False Prophet, check for God keeping seal of approval.