Genetic traceability of the geographical origin of typical Italian water buffalo Mozzarella cheese: a preliminary approach

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Abstract

Aims

To distinguish Italian Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) water buffalo Mozzarella from different producers on a molecular basis in relation to the place of manufacturing within the production district, and to develop a tool for genetic traceability of typical dairy products.

Methods and Results

Microbial DNA was isolated from Mozzarella's governing liquid to amplify the whole microflora's ribosomal 16S–23S internal transcribed spacers (ITS)-PCR fingerprinting by means of an original primer pair. Phylogenetic distance analyses were performed on the obtained electrophoretic band patterns by maximum parsimony and neighbour-joining tree construction algorithms for discrete binary data, using a conventional bootstrap resampling test. The observed band profiles showed high repeatability and specificity, allowing unambiguous distinction of each sample; phylogenetic analyses yielded the same tree topology with good strength of nodal support. Moreover, a relationship between the genetic distances among samples and the actual geographical ones separating the respective producing dairies was observed.

Conclusions

The genetic diversity of PDO water buffalo Mozzarella's microflora, observed by ITS-PCR fingerprinting, can be exploited to discriminate cheeses from differently located dairies.

Significance and Impact of the Study

Given the increasing importance of food traceability for safety, quality and typicalness issues, the ITS-PCR fingerprinting protocol described here may represent a suitable tool for tracing the geographical origin of Italian Mozzarella.

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