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Predictive microbiology theory and application: is it all about rates?


McMeekin, T and Olley, J and Ratkowsky, D and Corkrey, R and Ross, T, Predictive microbiology theory and application: is it all about rates?, Food Control, 29, (2) pp. 290-299. ISSN 0956-7135 (2013) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2012 Elsevier.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.foodcont.2012.06.001


We review early work on the microbial growth curve and the concept of balanced growth followed by commentary on the stringent response and persister cells. There is a voluminous literature on the effect of antibiotics on resistance and persistence and we call for a greater focus in food microbiology on the effect of biocides in the same context. We also raise potential issues in development of resistance arising from "source-sink" dynamics and from horizontal gene transfer. Redox potential is identified as crucial in determining microbial survival or death, and the recently postulated role for reactive oxygen species in signalling also considered.
    "Traditional" predictive microbiology is revisited with emphasis on temperature dependence. We interpret the temperature vs growth rate curve as comprising 11 regions, some well-recognised but others leading to new insights into physiological responses. In particular we are intrigued by a major disruption in the monotonic rate of inactivation at a temperature, slightly below the actual maximum temperature for growth. This non-intuitive behaviour was earlier reported by other research groups and here we propose that it results from a rapid metabolic switch from the relaxed growth state to the stringent survival state.
    Finally, we envision the future of predictive microbiology in which models morph from empirical to mechanistic underpinned by microbial physiology and bioinformatics to grow into Systems Biology.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:predictive microbiology, systems biology, biological rates, stringent response, persister cells, antibiotic-resistance, biocide-resistance, “source-sink”, growth rate, temperature response, bioinformatics, protein-folding-thermodynamics
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Microbiology
Research Field:Microbial ecology
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Food safety
UTAS Author:McMeekin, T (Professor Thomas McMeekin)
UTAS Author:Olley, J (Professor June Olley)
UTAS Author:Ratkowsky, D (Dr David Ratkowsky)
UTAS Author:Corkrey, R (Dr Ross Corkrey)
UTAS Author:Ross, T (Professor Tom Ross)
ID Code:78332
Year Published:2013
Web of Science® Times Cited:35
Deposited By:Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture
Deposited On:2012-06-22
Last Modified:2014-04-04

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