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Int J Food Microbiol. 1999 Oct 1;51(1):67-79.

Modelling the interactions between Lactobacillus curvatus and Enterobacter cloacae. II. Mixed cultures and shelf life predictions.

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Department of Food Technology and Nutritional Sciences, Food and Bioprocess Engineering Group, Wageningen Agricultural University, The Netherlands.


The modelling approach presented in this study can be used to predict when interactions between microorganisms in homogenous systems occur. It was tested for the interaction between Lactobacillus curvatus and Enterobacter cloacae. In this binary system, L. curvatus produces lactic acid which decreases the pH in the system. The pH decrease was found to be the main limiting factor of growth of both E. cloacae and L. curvatus. This resulted in E. cloacae reaching its final concentration earlier when compared to its growth in pure culture. The models consisted of a set of first order ordinary differential equations describing the growth, consumption and production rates of both microorganisms. The parameters for these equations were obtained from pure culture studies and from literature. These equations were solved using a combination of analytical and numerical methods. The prediction of growth in mixed culture using parameters from pure culture experiments and literature were close to the experimental data. Both model predictions and experimental validation indicated that interaction occurs when the concentration of L. curvatus reaches 10(8) cfu/ml. At that moment in time, the pH had decreased to inhibiting levels. These concentrations of microorganisms (10(8) cfu/ml) do occur in fermented products where interactions obviously are important. In nonfermented foods however, this level of microorganisms indicate that spoilage has occurred or is about to start. Microbial interactions can therefore be neglected when predicting shelf life or safety of food products in most cases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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