Viral metagenomic analysis of the cheese surface: A comparative study of rapid procedures for extracting viral particles

Food Microbiol. 2020 Feb:85:103278. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2019 Jul 24.


The structure and functioning of microbial communities from fermented foods, including cheese, have been extensively studied during the past decade. However, there is still a lack of information about both the occurrence and the role of viruses in modulating the function of this type of spatially structured and solid ecosystems. Viral metagenomics was recently applied to a wide variety of environmental samples and standardized procedures for recovering viral particles from different type of materials has emerged. In this study, we adapted a procedure originally developed to extract viruses from fecal samples, in order to enable efficient virome analysis of cheese surface. We tested and validated the positive impact of both addition of a filtration step prior to virus concentration and substitution of purification by density gradient ultracentrifugation by a simple chloroform treatment to eliminate membrane vesicles. Viral DNA extracted from the several procedures, as well as a vesicle sample, were sequenced using Illumina paired-end MiSeq technology and the subsequent clusters assembled from the virome were analyzed to assess those belonging to putative phages, plasmid-derived DNA, or even from bacterial chromosomal DNA. The best procedure was then chosen, and used to describe the first cheese surface virome, using Epoisses cheese as example. This study provides the basis of future investigations regarding the ecological importance of viruses in cheese microbial ecosystems.

Keywords: Cheese rind; Viral metagenomic; Viral particles extraction procedure.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Bacteriophages / genetics
  • Cheese / virology*
  • Metagenome*
  • Metagenomics / methods*
  • Microbiota
  • Virion / genetics*
  • Virology / methods