Food Engineering Reviews

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 122–142 | Cite as

A Quasi-chemical Model for Bacterial Spore Germination Kinetics by High Pressure

  • Christopher J. DoonaEmail author
  • Florence E. Feeherry
  • Kenneth Kustin
  • Haiqing Chen
  • Runze Huang
  • X. Philip Ye
  • Peter Setlow
Review Article


High pressure processing (HPP) is an emerging non-thermal technology that is growing exponentially in use worldwide for the pasteurization of commercial foodstuffs. At combinations of elevated pressures and temperatures, HPP inactivates bacterial spores, but HPP has not yet been implemented commercially for food sterilization. Studies of the mechanisms of bacterial spore inactivation by HPP using primarily spores of Bacillus species have shown that spore germination precedes inactivation, with the release of dipicolinic acid from the spore core as the rate-determining step. Investigations probing spore resistance to and germination by HPP using Bacillus subtilis, a number of selected B. subtilis mutants, Bacillus amyloliquefaciens, and Clostridium difficile spores have compiled a wealth of detailed mechanistic information, while also accumulating abundant germination kinetics data that has not previously been analyzed by predictive models. Presently, we devise a “quasi-chemical” model for bacterial spore germination dynamics by HPP. This quasi-chemical germination model (QCGM) hypothesizes a three-step mechanism and derives a set of ordinary differential equations to model the observed germination dynamics. The results with this model are viewed in the context of historical studies of spore activation, germination, and inactivation, with an eye toward potentially integrating differential equation models for germination and inactivation into a single, comprehensive model for spore dynamics by HPP. With the increasing use of high hydrostatic pressure to investigate mechanisms of bacterial spore resistance and physiology, the QCGM results help promote the efficient control of bacterial spores, whether for the inactivation of Clostridium botulinum spores in low-acid foods or aerosolized Bacillus anthracis spores on textiles used in protective clothing, tents, or shelters.


Spore germination and inactivation (B. subtilis, B. amyloliquefaciens, C. difficileHigh pressure processing Quasi-chemical predictive model SEM TEM 



The authors would like to thank Mr. Jay Jones (NSRDEC) for helpful discussions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York (outside the USA) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher J. Doona
    • 1
    Email author
  • Florence E. Feeherry
    • 1
  • Kenneth Kustin
    • 2
  • Haiqing Chen
    • 3
  • Runze Huang
    • 3
  • X. Philip Ye
    • 4
  • Peter Setlow
    • 5
  1. 1.US Army Natick Soldier RD&E CenterNatickUSA
  2. 2.Department of Chemistry, Emeritus, MS 015Brandeis UniversityWalthamUSA
  3. 3.Department of Animal and Food SciencesUniversity of DelawareNewarkUSA
  4. 4.Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil ScienceUniversity of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA
  5. 5.Department of Molecular Biology and BiophysicsUniversity of Connecticut Health CenterFarmingtonUSA

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