In this study, a comprehensive and comparative analysis was conducted on Italian Asiago-PDO cheese obtained from two different dairies named Dairy I and Dairy II using industrial and natural fermented milk, respectively. The analysis encompassed the evaluation of chemical composition, the succession of the microbiota during manufacture and ripening, and proteolysis mainly focusing on free individual amino acid (FAA) profiles. A metagenomic approach was used to investigate the cheese microbiome functionality. Differences in gross chemical composition were more evident during ripening, with Dairy II showing higher variability within batches. The microbiota varied significantly between the two dairies and ripening stages. The choice of starter culture shaped the microbiota during production and affected the microbial diversity of non-starter lactic acid bacteria (NSLAB) originated from the raw milk during ripening. Peptide chromatographic profiles and FAA concentrations increased as ripening progressed, with Dairy I showing higher production of FAA. Functional analysis of the...

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