Growth curve prediction from optical density data.
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A fundamental aspect of predictive microbiology is the shape of the microbial growth curve and many models are used to fit microbial count data, the modified Gompertz and Baranyi equation being two of the most widely used. Rapid, automated methods such as turbidimetry have been widely used to obtain growth parameters, but do not directly give the microbial growth curve. Optical density (OD) data can be used to obtain the specific growth rate and if used in conjunction with the known initial inocula, the maximum population data and knowledge of the microbial number at a predefined OD at a known time then all the information required for the reconstruction of a standard growth curve can be obtained. Using multiple initial inocula the times to detection (TTD) at a given standard OD were obtained from which the specific growth rate was calculated. The modified logistic, modified Gompertz, 3-phase linear, Baranyi and the classical logistic model (with or without lag) were fitted to the TTD data. In all cases the modified logistic and modified Gompertz failed to reproduce the observed linear plots of the log initial inocula against TTD using the known parameters (initial inoculum, MPD and growth rate). The 3 phase linear model (3PLM), Baranyi and classical logistic models fitted the observed data and were able to reproduce elements of the OD incubation-time curves. Using a calibration curve relating OD and microbial numbers, the Baranyi equation was able to reproduce OD data obtained for Listeria monocytogenes at 37 and 30°C as well as data on the effect of pH (range 7.05 to 3.46) at 30°C. The Baranyi model was found to be the most capable primary model of those examined (in the absence of lag it defaults to the classic logistic model). The results suggested that the modified logistic and the modified Gompertz models should not be used as Primary models for TTD data as they cannot reproduce the observed data.
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