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Int J Food Microbiol. 1998 Oct 20;44(1-2):83-92.

The effect of the growth environment on the lag phase of Listeria monocytogenes.

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Institute of Food Research, Reading, Berks, UK. Tobn.Robinson@BBSRC.AC.UK


The duration of lag in Listeria monocytogenes was examined in relation to the physico-chemical properties of the growth environment. It was supposed that lag would be determined by two hypothetical quantities, the amount of work that a cell has to perform to adapt to new conditions and the rate at which it can perform that work. If the rate at which the cell can perform the necessary work is a function of the maximum specific growth rate in the new environment, the hypothesis predicts that lag time should be related in some way to growth rate, provided cells are initially in approximately the same physiological state. Literature data suggest this is true for many organisms when temperature is the sole growth limiting factor. However, lag times of L. monocytogenes displayed an unusual response to temperature in which lag times of cells precultured at 37 degrees C were shorter at 15 degrees C than at 20 degrees C or 25 degrees C. Analysis of data from the Food Micromodel in which growth of L. monocytogenes was controlled by combinations of pH, NaCl concentration and temperature, showed that there was a linear relationship between lag time and mean generation time although there was much scatter in the data. When the effects of pH, solute type and concentration were investigated individually in this work the correlation between lag time and mean generation time was often poor. It would thus appear that the relationship between growth environment and lag time is more complex than the corresponding relationship between growth environment and maximum specific growth rate.

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