Cheeses like Brie, Stilton, and Parmigiano have a naturally formed protective rind on the outside. These rinds are biofilms that are formed by microorganisms during the aging process. Bacteria isolated from the rinds of various cheeses interact with each other and with fungi to form highly reproducible communities that can be studied in a Petri dish. The same combinations of around twenty-four different types of bacteria and fungi are responsible for the rinds of cheeses around the world. These “model communities” are being used to uncover the basic mechanisms of microbial community formation and function that might help to understand more complex systems, for example geochemical cycles of 3.2 billion year old microbial mats or the microbial communities in the human body.
The rinds of 137 different types of cheeses were collected by scraping the rind surface with a sterile razor blade, and subsequently cultured in agar. Any bacteria and fungi that grew were isolated and used for further experiments.
Pi Day is on Monday, March 14th. 2016 or 3/14/16 (Pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter or 3.14159).
Rachel Dutton, PhD., Division of Biological Sciences, University of California, San Diego, CA