Artisanal Pico cheese: Characterization of native microflora and attempts to improve quality.

  • Estado
  • Nome
    Sandra Paula de Aguiar e Câmara
  • Entidade de acolhimento
    CITA-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.