Since the 18th century people have been enjoying eating camembert cheese, which was first created in Normandy. The cheese owes its distinctive flavor to the white edible Penicillium camemberti mold, which is a relative of the wild-type Penicillium commune that is blue in color and toxic.
A team of researchers from Tufts University have been studying P. commune with a view to understanding how it evolved to be the vital ingredient in one of the most popular cheeses. They grew the toxic P. commune in the laboratory in Petri dishes that contained cheese curds. After one week the mold was still blue and fuzzy with an unpleasant ‘damp basement’ smell. After three or four weeks however some of the mold samples had become white, less fuzzy, and has a ‘fresh grass’ smell.
Further investigation of these mold samples was conducted to work out which, if any, genomic changes had led to the speedy evolution of the metabolism of the molds, however, no obvious mutations have yet been identified. The team now suggest that epigenetic changes may play a role in this transition from toxic mold to one that is unintentionally domesticated. This research may allow future cheese makers to domesticate new strains of mold that will result in unique cheeses for cheese lovers to fall in love with.
Source: Food Processing
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