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J Appl Microbiol. 1998 Jan;84(1):25-36.

Ecological determinants for germination and growth of some Aspergillus and Penicillium spp. from maize grain.

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Food Technology Department, CeRTA, Udl-IRTA Lleida University, Rovira Roure, Lleida, Spain.


This study compared the effect of temperature (5-45 degrees C), water availability (water activity, aw; 0.995-0.75) and their interactions on the temporal rates of germination and mycelial growth of three mycotoxigenic strains of Aspergillus ochraceus and one isolate each of A. flavus, A. niger, Penicillium aurantiogriseum and P. hordei in vitro on a maize extract medium. Germination was very rapid at > 0.90 aw with an almost linear increase with time for all species. However, at < 0.90 aw, the germination rates of A. flavus and P. hordei were slower. The aw minima for germination were usually lower than for growth and varied with temperature. The effect of aw x temperature interactions on the lag phases (h), prior to germination, and on the germination rates (h(-1)), were predicted for the first time for these fungi using the Gompertz model modified by Zwietering. This showed that A. flavus, A. niger and the two Penicillium spp. had very short lag times between 0.995-0.95 aw over a wide temperature range. At marginal temperatures, these were significantly higher, especially at < 10 degrees C for Aspergillus spp. and > 30 degrees C for Penicillium spp. There were also statistically significant differences between lag phases and germination rates for three different isolates of A. ochraceus. The Aspergillus spp. also germinated faster than the Penicillium spp. The temperature x aw profiles for mycelial growth varied considerably between species, both in terms of rates (mm d(-1)) and tolerances. Predictions of the effects of important environmental factors such as temperature, aw and their interactions on lag times to germination, germination rates and mycelial growth are important in the development of hurdle technology approaches to predicting fungal spoilage in agricultural and food products.

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