Artisanal Pico cheese: Characterization of native microflora and attempts to improve quality.
- NomeSandra Paula de Aguiar e Câmara
- Entidade de acolhimentoCITA-A – Centro de Investigação e Tecnologias Agrárias dos Açores
This PhD program encompasses research and development efforts aimed at bioprospection of the microbial diversity, and subsequent comprehensive characterization, of a traditional dairy product at the risk of extinction – artisanal Pico cheese, manufactured exclusively in Pico Island (Azores, Portugal). It covers pioneer research pertaining to a microbial ecosystem on which very little has been published, with the dual purpose of contributing to the scientific knowledge on bacteria as adjunct cultures and to the long-term preservation of Pico cheese in the local and global market –as a threatened source of biodiversity and as an important element of the Portuguese cultural heritage.
The specific objectives are:
- to gain knowledge on Pico cheese as a unique microbial ecosystem, using community analysis techniques;
- to compare culture-dependent and culture-independent procedures as means of evaluating the biodiversity in Pico cheese;
- to investigate the potential of autochthonous bacteria to increase the quality, safety and, ultimately, sustainability of artisanal Pico cheese;
- to contribute to the preservation of artisanal Pico cheese production;
- to contribute to preservation and stabilization of its microbial biodiversity;
- to increase the existing scientific knowledge on microbial taxonomy and functionality of wild local strains as adjunct starters for such an artisanal cheese.