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Int J Food Microbiol. 2003 Jun 25;83(3):295-305.

The effect of abrupt shifts in temperature on the lag phase duration of Escherichia coli and Klebsiella oxytoca.

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  • 1Centre for Food Safety and Quality, School of Agricultural Science, University of Tasmania, GPO Box 252-54, Hobart 7001, Tasmania, Australia.


The effect of temperature of incubation on lag times of two gram-negative foodborne bacteria was investigated. Bacteria were instantaneously transferred between temperatures within and beyond the normal physiological temperature range (NPTR). Abrupt temperature shifts induced lag phases, but the degree of the response was dependent on the direction and magnitude of the shift. Temperature downshifts induced larger relative lag times (RLT; the ratio of lag time to generation time), than equivalent upshifts. The hypothesis of Robinson et al. [Int. J. Food Microbiol. 44 (1998) 83] that lag time can be understood in terms of the amount of work to be done to adjust to new environmental conditions and the rate at which that work is done was supported. Deviation of the reported proportionality between lag time and generation time was observed when late-exponential phase cells were subjected to abrupt temperature shifts from beyond the normal physiological range.

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