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J Appl Microbiol. 2005;99(6):1503-15.

Environmental factors influencing the relationship between optical density and cell count for Listeria monocytogenes.

Author information

1
Laboratory of Food Microbiology and Food Preservation, Department of Food Safety and Food Quality, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.

Abstract

AIMS:

The effect of temperature (2-30 degrees C), pH (4.8-7.4) and water activity (0.946-0.995) on the relationship between optical density (OD) at 600 nm and the plate count (CFU ml(-1)) was investigated for Listeria monocytogenes.

METHODS AND RESULTS:

Calibration curves, relating OD with plate counts, were collected by measuring the OD of consecutive one-half dilution series, before determining the cell density by classic plate count methods. The calibration curves were observed to be shifting in a parallel way, with increasing stress levels. Especially pH influenced the curve in a great extent, while the other variables were showing more synergetic effects. The reason for the shift was investigated by a microscopic viability test, showing a viability decrease with increasing stress levels, causing the shift of the calibration curve. In a last step a model was made describing the effect of environmental factors on the calibration curve, with different data transformations being tested. A polynomial equation was fitted to the data, taking into account a set of constraints to incorporate microbiological knowledge in the black box model. Hence, illogical interpolation results and overfitting of the data could be avoided.

CONCLUSIONS:

Different stress factors are affecting the relationship between the OD and the cell count of L. monocytogenes by lowering the cell viability. These effects could be modelled using a constrained polynomial model.

SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY:

The observed phenomena are important when calculating growth parameters, like growth rate and lag phase, based on OD data.

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