, Volume 42, Issue 11–12, pp 1192–1197 | Cite as

Psychrophilic and psychrotrophic microorganisms

  • A. -M. Gounot


Psychrophilic and psychrotrophic microorganisms have the ability to grow at 0°C. Psychrotrophic microorganisms have a maximum temperature for growth above 20°C and are widespread in natural environments and in foods. Psychrophilic microorganisms have a maximum temperature for growth at 20°C or below and are restricted to permanently cold habitats. This ability to grow at low temperature may be correlated with a lower temperature characteristic than that of the mesophiles, an increasing proportion of unsaturated fatty acids in the lipid phase of the cell membrane, which makes it more fluid, and a protein conformation functional at low temperature. The relatively low maximum temperature of growth for these microorganisms is often considered to be due to the thermolability of one or more essential cellular components, particularly enzymes, while some degradative activities are enhanced, resulting in an exhaustion of cell energy, a leakage of intracellular substances or complete lysis. Psychrotrophic microorganisms are well-known for their degradative activities in foods. Some are pathogenic or toxinogenic for man, animals or plants. However in natural microbial ecosystems psychrotrophic and psychrophilic microorganisms can play a large role in the biodegradation of organic matter during cold seasons.

Key words

Psychrophily psychrotrophy microorganisms temperature physiology activities 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. -M. Gounot
    • 1
  1. 1.MicrobiologieUniversité Claude Bernard Lyon 1Villeurbanne Cedex(France)

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