Mechanistic modelling of the microbial lag phase dynamics and variability
Predictive microbiology is the science of developing mathematical models that describe the behaviour of microorganisms in food products. This behaviour is described as a function of the food properties. However, there are several difficulties in describing the lag phase of microbial growth, i.e., the time it takes until microorganisms can start growing when placed in a new environment. Therefore, the current research will work on developing a new type of mathematical models that consider the processes that occur inside the cell. Specifically, the processes that occur when cells adapt to a new environment will be studied to include this information into the mathematical models. However, large variability can exist between the lag phase behaviour of different cells, even when they live in the exact same environment. Therefore, the current research will also study how differences in the observable properties of genetically identical cells can lead to this variability.
The results of this research will lead to an improved prediction of the behaviour of pathogenic microorganisms in food products. Consequently, the implementation of these results by food industry in the future will have a positive long term effect on both public health and the economy.