New York Times science correspondent Carl Zimmer explains how Penicillium molds have given us yummy cheeses:
By comparing the genomes of different species of molds, Dr. Rodríguez de la Vega and his colleagues have reconstructed their history. On Thursday in the journal Current Biology, the scientists reported that cheese makers unwittingly have thrown their molds into evolutionary overdrive.
They haven’t simply gained new genetic mutations to help them grow better in cheese. Over the past few centuries, these molds also have picked up large chunks of DNA from other species in order to thrive in their new culinary habitat.
The first cheese makers had no idea that they were collecting particular species of mold. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that scientists discovered the identities. Only then did it become possible for industrial cheese makers to select certain strains of mold grown in laboratories in order to produce cheese in factories.
The article has photos of blue and Camembert cheeses at the top, and I am now craving some. When's lunch?