The domestication of Penicillium cheese fungi

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Several seminars are held weekly at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, an initiative that aims to bring together all researchers around the topics under discussion.

The sessions, with internal researchers or guests, contribute to stimulate the open and extremely collaborative culture of the IGC.

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Domestication is the process of organism evolution under selection by humans, and as such has been a model for studying adaptation since Charles Darwin. I will present recent studies on the genomics of adaptation and domestication syndrome in two emblematic cheese-making fungal lineages, Penicillium roqueforti used for maturing blue cheeses, and the Penicillium camemberti species complex used for making soft cheeses such as Camembert and Brie. Comparative genomics have revealed horizontal gene transfers involved in convergent adaptation to cheese. Population genomics have identified differentiated populations with contrasted traits, several populations having independently been domesticated for cheese making, in both P. roqueforti and the Penicillium camemberti species complex. The different cheese populations have acquired traits beneficial for cheese making in comparison to non-cheese populations, regarding color, spore production, growth rates on cheese, salt tolerance, lipolysis, proteolysis, volatile compound or toxin production and/or competitive ability. The cheese populations also show degeneration for some unused functions such as decreased ability of sexual reproduction or of growth under harsh conditions. These recent findings have fundamental importance for our understanding of adaptation and have applied interest for strain improvement.



Tatiana Giraud
ESE, Université Paris-Saclay, CNRS, AgroParisTech


Lounes Chikhi