• Escherichia coli;
  • Salmonella Typhimurium;
  • salt;
  • structure;
  • submerged colonies


Up to now, it is generally observed that (i) the microbial growth domain is confined by structure-induced stress, or (ii) a solid(-like) environment can enhance microbial survival/growth. In most studies in solid(-like) systems, structure is induced by the addition of gelatin. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of other structure-inducing components on the growth dynamics. Both single and binary gel systems are used. Growth is studied when simultaneously exposed to salt stress. Experiments are performed in spectrophotometer tubes, filled with 1 mL of liquid, or structured inoculated brain heart infusion. Four different (combinations of) gelling agents are tested, that is, gelatin, xanthan gum, a 50% combination of xanthan gum and gelatin, and a 50% combination of carrageenan and gelatin. Experiments determine the growth behavior of both Escherichia coli (0% to 0.5% and 1%, 2%, 3%, 4%, and 5% NaCl) and Salmonella Typhimurium (0%, 1%, 2%, 3%, 4%, and 5% NaCl) at 23.5 and 27 °C. By means of plate counting, the growth dynamics are determined. At the studied conditions, growth of E. coli and Salmonella Typhimurium seems independent of the type of structure-inducing component. However, at higher concentrations of salt (>2%), lag phases are typically shorter in solid(-like) systems than in liquid media. For the conditions tested, the effect of a structured environment on growth rate and maximal cell density can be neglected.

Practical Application

This study confirms that predictive models, based on experiments in liquid media cannot be extrapolated to solid media, that is, most food products. Using these models could lead to fail-dangerous predictions.