Growth parameters of Penicillium expansum calculated from mixed inocula as an alternative to account for intraspecies variability
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The aim of this work was to compare the radial growth rate (μ) and the lag time (λ) for growth of 25 isolates of Penicillium expansum at 1 and 20 ºC with those of the mixed inoculum of the 25 isolates. Moreover, the evolution of probability of growth through time was also compared for the single strains and mixed inoculum. Working with a mixed inoculum would require less work, time and consumables than if a range of single strains has to be used in order to represent a given species. Suitable predictive models developed for a given species should represent as much as possible the behavior of all strains belonging to this species. The results suggested, on one hand, that the predictions based on growth parameters calculated on the basis of mixed inocula may not accurately predict the behavior of all possible strains but may represent a percentage of them, and the median/mean values of μ and λ obtained by the 25 strains may be substituted by the value obtained with the mixed inoculum. Moreover, the predictions may be biased, in particular, the predictions of λ which may be underestimated (fail-safe). Moreover, the prediction of time for a given probability of growth through a mixed inoculum may not be accurate for all single inocula, but it may represent 92% and 60% of them at 20 and 1 ºC, respectively, and also their overall mean and median values. In conclusion, mixed inoculum could be a good alternative to estimate the mean or median values of high number of isolates, but not to account for those strains with marginal behavior. In particular, estimation of radial growth rate, and time for 0.10 and 0.50 probability of growth using a cocktail inoculum accounted for the estimates of most single isolates tested. For the particular case of probability models, this is an interesting result as for practical applications in the food industry the estimation of t10 or lower probability may be required.