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Cheeses are among the oldest foods processed by humans. It is possible to distinguish nearly 1,200 and 450 different cheese varieties in France and Canada, respectively. One of the main characteristics of cheeses is to harbor a complex microbial community, which is also specific to the cheese variety. The development and activity of these microbial communities allow the production of widely diversified products whose sensory qualities are recognized by the consumers. Another important role of the microbial community is known as the barrier effect, i.e. the ability to prevent the development of undesirable microorganisms, including both pathogens and spoilage microbes, causing food safety problems as well as food waste issues.
Microbial contamination and growth of spoilage microorganisms in cheese can result in undesirable changes in appearance, texture, flavor, and odor that reduce the quality of the final product, making it improper for selling. Cladosporium species are among the most common filamentous fungi causing defects in washed-rind cheeses and are considered as major spoilage microorganisms in the dairy industry. However, little is known about the potential antimicrobial effect of indigenous microorganisms actually present in dairy products against such spoilage fungi. One promising approach to fight against cheese contaminants is called biopreservation and consists in the inoculation of individual strains or consortia having targeted anti-microbial activities.
The general objective of the project is to produce further knowledge to better understand microbial interactions sustaining the barrier effect in food microbial ecosystems. More specifically, we aim at designing efficient biopreservation strategies based on microbial interactions and to define robust protective consortia that limit the development of Cladosporium in cheese products. We will also assess the effect of the introduction of Cladosporium and anti-Cladosporium associations on the functioning of the technological microflora used for typical cheese production.
I am a microbial ecologist working on the structure and functioning of microbial ecosystems. During my PhD with Dr Corinne Petit (Blaise Pascal University, Clermont- Ferrand, France), I developed functional microarrays and related bioinformatic solutions in order to monitor microbial populations involved in the bioremediation of contaminated groundwater.In 21012,Imovedtothe University of Lethbridge (Alberta, Canada) for a postdoctoral position with Pr Brent Selinger to study the relation between disbyosis of the cattle intestinal microbiota and the shedding of Escherichia coli O157:H7 with metagenomic tools. I got a permanent position as young scientist at INRA in 2013 (GMPA Research Unit, Thiverval-Grignon, France). My research is focused on the cheese microbial ecosystem. I am interested in biotic and abiotic factors inducing perturbations of the stability of this microbial ecosystem. Thanks to the AgreenSkills Plus program, I am presently working as invited researcher at the Food Mycology Laboratory (University Laval, Québec, Canada), directed by Pr Steve Labrie, which studies yeasts and fungi isolated from traditional cheeses produced in Canada and their associated processing environments.
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