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Do bacterial cell numbers follow a theoretical Poisson distribution? Comparison of experimentally obtained numbers of single cells with random number generation via computer simulation

Koyama, Kento, Hokunan, Hidekazu, Hasegawa, Mayumi, Kawamura, Shuso, Koseki, Shigenobu
Food microbiology 2016 v.60 pp. 49-53
Listeria monocytogenes, Poisson distribution, Salmonella enterica, bacteria, computer simulation, death, enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli, inoculum, models, serotypes
We investigated a bacterial sample preparation procedure for single-cell studies. In the present study, we examined whether single bacterial cells obtained via 10-fold dilution followed a theoretical Poisson distribution. Four serotypes of Salmonella enterica, three serotypes of enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli and one serotype of Listeria monocytogenes were used as sample bacteria. An inoculum of each serotype was prepared via a 10-fold dilution series to obtain bacterial cell counts with mean values of one or two. To determine whether the experimentally obtained bacterial cell counts follow a theoretical Poisson distribution, a likelihood ratio test between the experimentally obtained cell counts and Poisson distribution which parameter estimated by maximum likelihood estimation (MLE) was conducted. The bacterial cell counts of each serotype sufficiently followed a Poisson distribution. Furthermore, to examine the validity of the parameters of Poisson distribution from experimentally obtained bacterial cell counts, we compared these with the parameters of a Poisson distribution that were estimated using random number generation via computer simulation. The Poisson distribution parameters experimentally obtained from bacterial cell counts were within the range of the parameters estimated using a computer simulation. These results demonstrate that the bacterial cell counts of each serotype obtained via 10-fold dilution followed a Poisson distribution. The fact that the frequency of bacterial cell counts follows a Poisson distribution at low number would be applied to some single-cell studies with a few bacterial cells. In particular, the procedure presented in this study enables us to develop an inactivation model at the single-cell level that can estimate the variability of survival bacterial numbers during the bacterial death process.