February 25, 2013 Meeting
The second of two February meetings of the Experimental Cuisine Collective will take place on Monday, February 25, from 4 to 6 p.m.
Our speaker will be Rachel Dutton, a Bauer Fellow at Harvard University’s FAS Center for Systems Biology, whose lab studies the microbial communities found on cheese. In caves and cellars around the world, communities of microbes colonize the surface of cheese as it ages. While these communities contribute to the aromas, flavors, and textures of aged cheeses, they can also be thought of as ideal model ecosystems to study microbes in their natural environment. With the advent of cheaper and more efficient DNA sequencing technologies, microbial communities can be examined in unprecedented detail. However, these techniques have rarely been applied to microbial ecosystems of fermented foods, and as a result, the exact nature of many of these communities remains a mystery. Dr. Dutton will discuss research in her lab using these DNA sequencing technologies to study community patterns in a collection of over 100 different types of cheese. She will discuss some of the highlights of this study, and the implications for future work and understanding of cheese. She will also discuss how her lab is using in vitro cheese to test models of community formation and interactions between microbes in the lab.