Biography:

In the past G. Licitra has collaborated on articles with E. Raffrenato and S. Carpino. One of their most recent publications is ArticleComposition of Ragusano Cheese During Aging. Which was published in journal Journal of Dairy Science.

More information about G. Licitra research including statistics on their citations can be found on their Copernicus Academic profile page.

G. Licitra's Articles: (13)

ArticleComposition of Ragusano Cheese During Aging

AbstractRagusano cheese is a brine-salted pasta filata cheese. Composition changes during 12 mo of aging were determined. Historically, Ragusano cheese has been aged in caves at 14 to 16°C with about 80 to 90% relative humidity. Cheeses (n = 132) included in our study of block-to-block variation were produced by 20 farmhouse cheese makers in the Hyblean plain region of the Province of Ragusa in Sicily. Mean initial cheese block weight was about 14 kg. The freshly formed blocks of cheese before brine salting contained about 45.35% moisture, 25.3% protein, and 25.4% fat, with a pH of 5.25. As result of the brining and aging process, a natural rind forms. After 12 mo of aging, the cheese contained about 33.6% moisture, 29.2% protein, 30.0% fat, and 4.4% salt with a pH of 5.54, but block-to-block variation was large. Both soluble nitrogen content and free fatty acid (FFA) content increased with age. The pH 4.6 acetate buffer and 12% TCA-soluble nitrogen as a percentage of total nitrogen were 16 and 10.7%, respectively, whereas the FFA content was about 643 mg/100 g of cheese at 180 d. Five blocks of cheese were selected at 180 d for a study of variation within block. Composition variation within block was large; the center had higher moisture and lower salt in moisture content than did the outside. Composition variation within blocks favored more proteolysis and softer texture in the center.

ArticleGenotype by Environment Interaction for Yield and Somatic Cell Score with Alternative Environmental Definitions

AbstractDifferential genetic expression in high and low opportunity Sicilian Holstein-Friesian and Brown Swiss herd environments was investigated using endogenous and exogenous variables in a set of three definitions. Results of genetic by environmental interaction were compared using alternative environmental definitions: within herd-year standard deviation for mature equivalent milk yield (HYSD), detectable incidence of normal vs. abnormal (peakless) lactation and herds clustered by causal relationships from high and low frequency use of nutrition, milking, health and animal handling practices. Data for genetic analysis consisted of first-lactation standardized yields of milk, fat and protein, and weighted somatic cell score for 8897 daughters of 825 Holstein-Friesian sires and 1143 daughters of 220 Brown Swiss sires. Components of covariance, heritabilities, and genetic correlations were estimated using bivariate and multivariate sire models for average and contrasting environments for each definition. Sire variances for yields were consistently smaller in the low opportunity environments of both breeds. Except for differential incidence of abnormal lactation in Friesian herds, correlated yield response in less privileged environments was 0.41 to 0.81 as much as in high opportunity environments, a substantial loss. Genetic correlations between HYSD environments for yield traits of Friesian were 0.48 to 0.66 but exceeded 0.80 for other definitions. Less correlated response in somatic cell score was also predicted for environments with low use of yield-enhancing practices (0.66 for Friesian and 0.61 for Brown Swiss), which may have resulted from less health care and poorer milking management. Therefore, unfavorable management interactions likely foster unequal gains from selection in contrasting environments defined exogenously or by incidence of peakless lactation. Conversely, greater genetic as well as phenotypic response is expected from additional inputs of nutrition, health care and milking management.

ArticleContribution of Native Pasture to the Sensory Properties of Ragusano Cheese*

AbstractRagusano is a Protected Denomination of Origin cheese produced in the Hyblean area of Sicily. Sixteen samples of Ragusano cheese from two different treatments [pasture and total mixed ration (TMR)] were evaluated after 4 and 7 mo of aging. The color of the cheeses produced from milk of cows consuming fresh native pasture plants was much more yellow than cheeses from TMR fed cows (i.e., higher Hunter b value). This was due to transfer of β-carotene and related compounds from the diet and demonstrated that compounds from native pasture plants changed the sensory characteristics of Ragusano cheese. To avoid a “halo” effect in a trained panel, quantitative descriptive analysis sensory evaluation of these cheeses for odor, taste, consistency, and mouth structure, color differences among cheeses were masked. A unique approach in sensory analysis was developed using sunglasses with lenses designed to block light at the specific wavelengths at which panelists would detect differences in color among samples. Testing was conducted every 2-wk period (15-d increments) with two tests per week using 11 trained panelists. All the panelists tasted all the products. Panelists were able to detect significant differences in the sensory characteristics of cheeses produced from milk of cows consuming native pastures versus TMR even when the color difference was masked.

ArticleProteolysis and Microstructure of Piacentinu Ennese Cheese Made Using Different Farm Technologies1

AbstractThe aim of this study was to provide the biochemical and structural characterization of Piacentinu Ennese cheese and to evaluate the impact of different farm technologies on cheese proteolysis and microstructure. Fifteen cheeses were manufactured according to traditional technology, i.e., from raw milk and farmhouse rennet in the absence of starter culture. Pasteurized milk, commercial rennet, and starter were used for production of 20 nontraditional cheeses. Proteolysis in Piacentinu Ennese cheese was monitored during a 2- to 10-mo ripening time. Low rates of overall proteolysis were observed in cheese, as percentages of total N soluble at pH 4.6 and in 12% trichloroacetic acid were about 11.40 and 8.10%, respectively, after 10 mo of age. Patterns of primary proteolysis by urea-PAGE showed that α s-caseins were degraded to a larger extent than were β- caseins, although a considerable amount of both caseins was still intact after 10 mo. Reversed phase-HPLC analysis of the cheese peptide fractions showed a slow decrease in the levels of hydrophobic peptides coupled to increasing levels of hydrophilic compounds as the cheese aged. The structural characteristics of Piacentinu Ennese cheese were evaluated by scanning electron microscopy after 2, 4, and 6 mo of age. The micrographs showed a sponge-like structural network with a well-distributed system of empty spaces, originally occupied by whey and fat. The microstructure changed during cheese ripening to become more compact with cavities of smaller size. Farm technology significantly affected cheese proteolysis and microstructure. Nontraditional cheeses had higher levels of pH 4.6-soluble N and showed a larger hydrolysis of α s-casein fractions by urea-PAGE analysis than did traditional cheeses. Large differences between cheese-types also concerned the patterns of secondary proteolysis. Nontraditional cheeses had higher levels of 12% trichloroacetic acid-soluble N and showed larger proportions of free amino acids and hydrophilic peptides in the HPLC profiles of the corresponding 70% ethanol-soluble N fraction than traditional cheeses. Nontraditional cheeses also had a more open structure with a coarser and less continuous appearance than did traditional cheeses. A large amount of variability in cheese proteolysis and structure within nontraditional treatment reflected farm-dependent changes in manufacturing conditions related to the use of various types of rennet and starter.

ArticleInteraction of Brine Concentration, Brine Temperature, and Presalting on Salt Penetration in Ragusano Cheese1

AbstractThirty-one 3.6-kg blocks of Ragusano cheese were made on each of 6 different days (in different weeks) starting with a different batch of milk on each day. On d 1, 3, and 5, the cheeses were not presalted and on d 2, 4, and 6, all cheeses were presalted (PS). One of the 31 blocks of cheese was selected at random for analysis before brine salting (i.e., on d 0). The remaining 30 blocks were randomly divided into 2 groups of 15 blocks each; one group was placed in 18% brine (18%B) and the other group was placed in saturated brine (SB). For the 15 blocks within each of the 2 brine concentrations (BC), 5 blocks were placed in a brine tank at 12° C, 5 at 15° C, and 5 at 18° C, and submerged for 24 d. The research objective was to determine the combined impacts (i.e., interactions) of PS the curd before stretching, BC (SB vs. 18%B), and brine temperature (BT; 12, 15, and 18° C) on salt uptake, moisture content, and yield of Ragusano cheese. Although BC, BT, and PS each had their own separate impacts on salt uptake, there was little interaction of these effects on salt uptake when they were used in combination. The PS most quickly delivered salt to the interior of the cheese and was the most effective approach to salting for controlling early gas formation. There were strong separate impacts of BC, BT, and PS on cheese moisture content, moisture loss, and net weight loss, with BC having the largest separate impact on these parameters. Reducing BT reduced salt content and increased moisture, but the effects were small. The more important effect of reduced BT was to reduce growth of gas forming bacteria. The 18%B produced higher moisture, and less moisture and weight loss than SB. The effect of interactions of BC, BT, and PS on moisture loss and net weight loss were small. To achieve the maximum benefit from the various approaches to salting for controlling early gas formation in Ragusano cheese, PS combined with slightly lower BT (i.e., 15° C instead of 18° C) should be used. Although using 18%B instead of SB did increase salt uptake, the point at which improved salt uptake occurred due to use of 18%B did not provide benefit in prevention of early gas formation, as reported separately. However, use of 18%B instead of SB provided a 9.98% increase in cheese yield due to reduced moisture loss during brining; this would be very attractive to cheese makers. The increase in yield needs to be balanced against the risk of growth of undesirable bacteria in the 18%B and the creation of another cheese quality defect.

ArticleBody Condition Assessment Using Digital Images

AbstractThis project assessed the ability to assign a body condition score (BCS) to a dairy cow from digital photographs or videos. Images were taken from the rear of the cow at a 0 to 20° angle relative to the tail head. Four observers assigned a BCS to each of 57 cows at a farm visit (live, farm 1) and later from a photograph (photo). Means ± standard deviations of BCS by method and observer were as follows: live = 3.25 ± 0.51, 3.42 ± 0.49, 3.32 ± 0.58, 3.13 ± 0.62; photo = 3.36 ± 0.52, 3.32 ± 0.43, 3.44 ± 0.62, 3.14 ± 0.6 for observers 1 to 4, respectively. Body condition score means differed across observers for live (observer 2 higher and observer 4 lower, compared with observers 1 and 3) and photo methods (observer 3 lower, compared with observers 1, 2, and 3); however, within observer, the mean live BCS did not differ from the mean photo BCS. Correlation coefficients between BCS assigned live and from photos were 0.84, 0.82, 0.82, and 0.90 for observers 1 to 4, respectively. Subsequently, observer 1 visited 2 farms, assigned a live BCS, and digitally photographed 187 cows (56 and 131 cows from farms 2 and 3, respectively). Observers 2, 3, and 4 assigned a BCS from the photographs. Means ± standard deviations of BCS by observer (method) were 1 (live) 3.35 ± 0.55; 2 (photo) 3.33 ± 0.49; 3 (photo) 3.60 ± 0.54; and 4 (photo) 3.26 ± 0.62. The mean BCS for observer 3 was higher and that for observer 4 was lower than for observers 1 and 2. Correlation coefficients between observer 1 and observers 2 through 4 were 0.78, 0.76, and 0.79, respectively. Observer 1 assigned a BCS to 41 cows at a farm visit and 3 wk later assessed the BCS of cows from a video taken at a farm visit by a different individual. Cows were restrained in headlocks at a feed bunk when assessing BCS and for video production. No difference was detected for the mean BCS, for the standard deviation of the mean BCS, or in the distribution of BCS between the live and video assessments. Mean and SD for 17 groups of Holstein cows from 20 farms were used to generate 10,000 random samples of BCS. Groups of 25, 50, 100, and 150 cows were created from the random samples, and estimates of mean BCS were determined by sampling 3 to 80% of the group. Estimates of mean BCS with a sample size of 30% or more from a group of cows fell within the 95% confidence limit of the true mean more than 98% of the time. Digital photographs provide adequate imaging for assessment of BCS. Sampling 30% of a group should be adequate to assess the mean BCS. Video imaging allowed a rapid assessment of BCS but did not permit identification of individual cows.

Association of total-mixed-ration chemical composition with milk, fat, and protein yield lactation curves at the individual level

AbstractThe objective of this study was to examine the effect of the chemical composition of a total mixed ration (TMR) tested quarterly from March 2006 through December 2008 for milk, fat, and protein yield curves for 27 herds in Ragusa, Sicily. Before this study, standard yield curves were generated on data from 241,153 test-day records of 9,809 animals from 42 herds in Ragusa province collected from 1995 to 2008. A random regression sire-maternal grandsire model was used to develop variance components for yields. The model included parity, age at calving, year at calving, and stage of pregnancy as fixed effects. Random effects were herd × test date, sire and maternal grandsire additive genetic effect, and permanent environmental effect modeled using third-order Legendre polynomials. Model fitting was carried out using ASReml. Subsequently, the model with estimated variance components was used to examine the influence of TMR crude protein, soluble N, acid detergent lignin, neutral detergent fiber, acid detergent fiber, starch, and ash on milk, fat, and protein yield curves. The data set contained 46,531 test-day milk yield records from 3,554 cows in the 27 herds recorded during the study period. Initially, an analysis was performed using one dietary component (one-component analysis) within each model as a fixed effect associated with the test-day record closest to the months the TMR was sampled within each herd. An interaction was included with the nutrient component and days in milk. The effect of the TMR chemical component(s) was modeled using a ninth-order Legendre polynomial. The conditional Wald F-statistic for the fixed effects revealed significant effects for acid detergent fiber, neutral detergent fiber, crude protein, starch, and their interactions with days in milk on milk, fat, and protein yield. On the basis of these results, a multicomponent analysis was performed in which crude protein, neutral detergent fiber, and starch were simultaneously included in the model with days in milk interactions. Although both analyses revealed that diet composition influenced production responses depending on lactation stage, the multiple-component analysis showed more pronounced effects of starch and neutral detergent fiber relative to crude protein for all traits throughout lactation.

Effect of Sicilian pasture feeding management on content of α-tocopherol and β-carotene in cow milk

AbstractThis study was performed to evaluate α-tocopherol and β-carotene contents of pasture milk under ordinary Sicilian farming conditions. Fourteen dairy farms were allocated into 2 balanced groups on the basis of cultivated (CULT) or spontaneous (SPO) pasture type feeding. Bulk milk per farm was collected 4 times from February through April at 3-wk intervals. Pasture botanical and diet composition, diet nutritional quality, milk yield and composition were estimated each time. Pasture intake levels were calculated based on feed analyses, hay and concentrate amounts fed, and milk yield and chemical composition. According to pasture intake, the farms were split into low pasture intake (LPI; <29.5% of dry matter) and high pasture intake (HPI; >29.5% of dry matter) groups. Milk samples per farm were analyzed for α-tocopherol and β-carotene contents by HPLC. The SPO group had higher levels of α-tocopherol and β-carotene in milk (0.7 and 0.3 mg/L, respectively) and milk fat (19.0 and 7.5 mg/kg fat, respectively) compared with the CULT group in milk (0.5 and 0.2 mg/L, respectively) and milk fat (14.6 and 4.9 mg/kg, respectively). High pasture intake compared with LPI increased α-tocopherol in milk fat (18.0 and 16.0 mg/kg of fat, respectively). However, only in the SPO (not in CULT), HPI compared with LPI increased milk α-tocopherol (0.8 vs. 0.6 mg/L, respectively), milk β-carotene (0.3 vs. 0.2 mg/L, respectively), and milk fat β-carotene (8.4 vs. 6.6 mg/kg, respectively). Results may be related to the different botanical composition of the respective pasture types and pasture intake. Spontaneous pasture compared with CULT contained a higher mass proportion of Asteraceae, Fabaceae, Cruciferae, Euphorbiaceae, and Malvaceae plants. Milk and milk fat α-tocopherol levels were higher on test-days (TD)-1, TD-2, and TD-4 compared with TD-3. For HPI farms, milk fat β-carotene content was higher on the first 2 TD compared with the last 2 TD. These differences could be related to plant biological stage. On Sicilian dairy farms, the highest milk α-tocopherol and β-carotene contents may be obtained feeding high levels of SPO pasture in the spring.

Stage of lactation and corresponding diets affect in situ protein degradation by dairy cows

AbstractThe influence of stage of lactation and corresponding diets on rates of protein degradation (kd) is largely unstudied. Study objectives were to measure and compare in situ ruminal kd of crude protein (CP) and estimate rumen CP escape (rumen-undegradable protein; RUP) of selected feeds by cows at 3 stages of lactation fed corresponding diets, and to determine the incubation times needed in an enzymatic in vitro procedure, using 0.2 units of Streptomyces griseus protease per percent of true CP, that predicted in situ RUP. Residue CP was measured after in situ fermentation for 4, 8, 12, 24, 36, 48, and 72 h of 5 protein sources and 3 total mixed rations, which were fed to the in situ cows. Two nonlactating (dry) cows and 2 cows each at 190 (mid) and 90 (peak) days of lactation were used. Each pair of cows was offered free-choice diets that differed in composition to meet their corresponding nutrient requirements. Diets had decreasing proportions of forages and contained (dry matter basis) 11.9, 15.1 and 16.4% CP and 54.3, 40.3 and 35.3% neutral detergent fiber, for dry, mid, and peak TMR (TMR1, TMR2, and TMR3), respectively. Intakes were 10.3, 21.4, and 23.8 kg of dry matter/d, respectively. Kinetic CP fractions (extractable, potentially degradable, undegradable, or slowly degradable) were unaffected by treatment. Lag time and kd varied among feeds. The kd was faster for all feeds (0.136/h) when incubated in dry-TMR1 cows compared with mid-TMR2 (0.097/h) or peak-TMR3 (0.098/h) cows, and no differences in lag time were detected. Calculated RUP, using estimated passage rates for each cow based on intake, differed between dry-TMR1 (0.382) and mid-TMR2 (0.559) or peak-TMR3 (0.626) cows, with a tendency for mid-TMR2 to be different from peak-TMR3. Using the average kd and lag time obtained from dry-TMR1 to calculate RUP for mid-TMR2 and peak-TMR3 cows using their passage rates reduced RUP values by 6.3 and 9.5 percentage units, respectively. Except for that of herring meal, in vitro residue CP at 6, 12, and 48 h of enzymatic hydrolysis was correlated (r = 0.90) with in situ RUP of peak-TMR3, mid-TMR2, and dry-TMR1, respectively. Although confounded within treatments, stage of lactation, diet, and intake appeared to affect CP degradation parameters and RUP. Using kd from nonlactating cows, or the RUP calculated from them, may bias diet evaluation or ration formulation for lactating cows. In addition, enzymatic in vitro predictions of RUP should be measured using incubation times that are appropriate for lactating cows.

Segmentation of structural features in cheese micrographs using pixel statistics

AbstractDescription of microscopic features is often accomplished by qualitative inspection of micrographs. However, assessing the differences responsible for the variation of rheological properties requires taking measurements of microscopic features. A statistically-founded algorithm is proposed for automatic identification of cheese micro-features in Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) imagery for quantitative analysis. Twenty SEM images of Ragusano cheese were recorded and manually labelled using a different colour coding for each of three features: whey pockets, fat globules, and protein matrix. The marked micrographs were used to train a statistical model. In turn, that model was used to mark the looked-for features on new images of the same type. Namely, pixel probabilities of belonging to the three classes above mentioned were computed, using pixel neighbourhoods at different scales. Each pixel was set within the most probable class. The proposed method could recognize the microstructure of Ragusano cheese in SEM images with higher accuracy (on average, 78.0% correct pixels) than other popular algorithms in the literature (e.g., Maximum Response 8 73.7% correct pixels). Being completely automatic in the operative phase, this algorithm allows to batch-process lots of images with no human intervention. It can also be used for any other application, since it can handle any number of phases.

Volatile fingerprint of Piacentinu cheese produced with different tools and type of saffron☆

AbstractSMart Nose, the first artificial nose based on mass spectrometry, was used to investigate the differences on aroma profile of Piacentinu cheese, a traditional Sicilian cheese obtained with ewes’ milk and saffron. Local (L) or Commercial (C) saffron was added to cheeses produced by traditional (wood) (L) and plastic (P) tool (tina). At the end, four groups of cheeses were obtained: LL, LC, PL, PC. The experiment was replicated four times. All cheeses samples were analysed at 0 days, 2 and 4 months of ripening. Groups of samples at 0 days of ripening were not discriminated by SMart Nose; this is likely due to the undefined aroma profile of fresh cheeses. Cheese samples at 2 and 4 months of ripening showed a clearer separation. First data grouping was made considering the tools used during cheese making, as being constant. The instrument enabled the differentiation between the groups LL and LC and the same result was obtained for cheese samples produced using plastic tools (PL and PC). This indicates that the different kind of saffron (Local and Commercial) influences the aroma components of the cheeses. The other data grouping was performed considering the saffron added as constant. LC and PC, LL and PL were analysed and their good separation indicates the important role of the tools on the aroma compounds of the Piacentinu cheese.

Differences in volatiles, and chemical, microbial and sensory characteristics between artisanal and industrial Piacentinu Ennese cheeses

AbstractPiacentinu is a traditional Sicilian ewes’ milk cheese produced in the province of Enna. The objective of this study was to determine whether altering the traditional conditions under which Piacentinu cheeses are made affects their volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and sensory characteristics. Cheeses were obtained from different farms and ripened for 2 to 6 months. Those made from raw milk and artisanal rennets contained a more diverse group of VOCs, especially with respect to terpenes, and had significantly stronger aroma intensities in most categories except fruity. Cheeses made from pasteurised milk with commercial starters and rennets had significantly stronger salty and spicy tastes. Principal components analysis of the VOC and sensory data separated the two types of cheeses by their VOC “fingerprints” and a few aroma sensory attributes. Ripening time was accounted for by aroma intensity, and taste and texture attributes.

Optimal input design for autonomous aircraft☆

Highlights •An Optimum Experimental Design for UAVs is proposed.•Flight Envelope Constraints are systematically fulfilled.•Time domain model based approach.

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