Are Roquefort and Camembert doomed to disappear?

According to researchers at Paris-Saclay University, the disappearance of blue cheeses and Camembert in France is not impossible. For good reason, the selection pressure on the mushrooms used in their production, in particular “Penicillium roqueforti” and “Penicillium camemberti”, has led to a reduction in their genetic diversity, making these microorganisms almost infertile.

Cheese production under threat

Mushrooms are directly involved in the fermentation of milk, an essential step in the production of cheese. Without them, cheese would not be what we know. A situation which therefore threatens cheese production, with producers having difficulty obtaining this reproductive cell of the fungus, the “spores”, in sufficient quantity.

Faced with the fear of changes in the characteristics of traditional French cheeses, notably Roquefort, the National Center for Scientific Research informs: “The agro-food sector has exerted selection pressure on mushrooms so great that cheeses , non-farmers and not protected by a protected designation of origin (PDO), today present an extremely poor diversity of micro-organisms.

Towards a “new” Camembert?

The main one affected by this shortage: Camembert. It is the flagship cheese of the French, the one that we enjoy with a good baguette and, to push the cliché, a beret on the head. It is an integral part of French heritage and unfortunately, it is the first impacted by this situation. For good reason, Camembert “is inoculated by a single strain of “Penicillium camemberti”, everywhere on Earth,” insists the CNRS. To understand better, it is thanks to this fungus that the white and fluffy rind of the Camembert is formed. Through exploitation, its reproductive capacity has considerably reduced. The strain of “Penicillium camemberti” is therefore becoming rare, pushing producers to turn to another species of mushroom: Geotrichum candidum. So let’s expect something new on our cheese platters.

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