Our vision of piezophysiology

More than 95% of life forms in terms of variety and mass live in the deep sea adapted to varying high pressure up to 100 MPa at a constant temperature of 4°C, while the rest are "extremophiles" adapted to live at the surface, at more or less fixed 0.1 MPa with varying temperature.

High pressure acts on macromulecules of living organisms and will impair growth and inactivate bacteria from 50 and 200 MPa up, respectively. Therefore high pressure is used to pasteurize food and develop pressure driven thermal inactivation of bacterial endospores. As small molecules are widely unaffected, foods are anabled, which are "fresher after pressure". While the picture of inactivation mechanisms in vegetative cells gains shape, knowledge on the pressure driven inactivation mechanisms is still limited.

Besides practical application in food processing, high pressure is a barely exploited thermodynamic tool to study molecular structures of proteins, phospholipid bilayers, ribosomal function and even cellular signalling cascades.

While our bacteria are under pressure, we do our research relaxed.


HIPSTER: Development of high pressure and temperature food processing for sustainable, safe and nutritious food with fresh-like quality

High pressure and temperature (HPT) processing is a candidate technology to obtain food products with high quality and extended shelf life. This novel technology, which has been validated at small scale, has also shown potential to reduce energy and water consumption, operation costs and to improve the sustainability of  both  production  process  and  the  food  chain.  However, this promising technology is not currently implemented at industrial level due to several technical, legal and market barriers which have so far hindered its scale-up. 

The overall objective of the HIPSTER project is to develop and demonstrate fit for use knowledge, tools and industrial equipments in order to effectively implement this milder processing technology in the food industry.

More on the HIPSTER project and its partners is found at www.hipster-project.eu.

Within this project we are working on the HPT inactivation of Clostridium (C.) botulinum endospores in food model systems and real foods.

project leader: Rudi F. Vogel

participating scientists: Christian Lenz, Maximilian Maier

open positions: none

collaborations: Eight partners in the EU, see HIPSTER project link above.