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Application of real-time PCR (qPCR) for characterization of microbial populations and type of milk in dairy food products

Agrimonti, Caterina, Bottari, Benedetta, Sardaro, Maria Luisa Savo, Marmiroli, Nelson
Critical reviews in food science and nutrition 2019 v.59 no.3 pp. 423-442
DNA, analytical methods, foods, genomics, microorganisms, milk, monitoring, nutritive value, product safety, protected designation of origin, quantitative polymerase chain reaction
Dairy foods represent an important sector of the food market for their nutritional qualities and their organoleptic characteristics, which are often linked to tradition and to region. These products are typically protected by labels such as PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) and PGI (Protected Geographical Indication). Real-time PCR (qPCR) is a fundamental tool in “Food Genomics;” a discipline concerned with the residual DNA in food, which, alongside traditional physical and chemical methods, is frequently used to determine product safety, quality and authenticity. Compared to conventional or “end-point” PCR, qPCR incorporates continuous monitoring of reaction progress, thereby enabling quantification of target DNA. This review describes qPCR applications to the analysis of microbiota, and to the identification of the animal species source of milk from which dairy products have been made. These are important aspects for ensuring safety and authenticity. The various applications of qPCR are discussed, as well as advantages and disadvantages in comparison with other analytical methods.