Skip to main content
Log in

Evaluation of the disinfection effect and mechanism of SO4•− and HO UV/persulfate salts

  • Research Article
  • Published:
Environmental Science and Pollution Research Aims and scope Submit manuscript


Although ultraviolet (UV) and persulfate (PS) have been widely used in water disinfection process, their incompleteness of disinfection, such as inducing the production of viable but non-culturable cells (VBNC), has attracted extensive attention. In this study, the disinfection effect of combined UV and PS was evaluated, and the roles of SO4•− and HO radicals in UV/PS disinfection were also analyzed. UV/PS more effectively inactivated cells and reduced the number of culturable cells. Also, the test of bacterial dark activation suggested that UV/PS disinfection inhibited the recovery of VBNC bacteria. The mechanisms of UV/PS disinfection were the increase of membrane permeability and oxidative stress, where SO4•− radicals played more role than HO radicals. Furthermore, UV/PS disinfection more significantly perturbed the metabolism of Pseudomonas aeruginosa (p < 0.05), mainly involving glyoxylate and dicarboxylic acid metabolism, aminoacyl-tRNA biosynthesis, Alanine, aspartate and glutamate metabolism, and citric acid cycle (TCA cycle). In short, UV/PS disinfection can not only significantly reduce the number of culturable bacteria (kill bacteria) but also inhibits the recovery of VBNC bacteria.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6

Similar content being viewed by others

Data Availability

The datasets used and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


  • Ahmad P, Alam P, Balawi TH, Altalayan FH, Ahanger MA, Ashraf M (2020) Sodium nitroprusside (SNP) improves tolerance to arsenic (As) toxicity in Vicia faba through the modifications of biochemical attributes, antioxidants, ascorbate-glutathione cycle and glyoxalase cycle. Chemosphere 244:125480

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Apel K, Hirt H (2004) Reactive oxygen species: metabolism, oxidative stress, and signal transduction. Annu Rev Plant Biol 55:373–399

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Bianco A, Polo Lopez MI, Fernandez Ibanez P, Brigante M, Mailhot G (2017) Disinfection of water inoculated with Enterococcus faecalis using solar/Fe(III)EDDS-H2O2 or S2O8(2-) process. Water Res 118:249–260

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Campo R, Vassallo A, Rabbeni G, Arancio W, Gallo G, Di Bella G (2021) Reactivation of aerobic granular sludge for the treatment of industrial shipboard slop wastewater: effects of long-term storage on granules structure, biofilm activity and microbial community. J Water Process Eng 42

  • Chen S, Li X, Wang Y, Zeng J, Ye C, Li X, Guo L, Zhang S, Yu X (2018) Induction of Escherichia coli into a VBNC state through chlorination/chloramination and differences in characteristics of the bacterium between states. Water Research 142:279–288

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • De Luca A, He X, Dionysiou DD, Dantas RF, Esplugas S (2017) Effects of bromide on the degradation of organic contaminants with UV and Fe 2+ activated persulfate. Chem Eng J 318:206–213

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fu H, Ding L, Zhai J, Wang X (2021) Purification effect evaluation of the designed new volcanic soil adsorption material containing bioreactor for eutrophic water treatment. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int 28:59821–59833

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Gaschler MM, Stockwell BR (2017) Lipid peroxidation in cell death. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 482:419–425

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Helander IM, Mattila-Sandholm T (2020) Fluorometric assessment of Gram-negative bacterial permeabilization. J Appl Microbiol 88(2):213–219

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ho YS, Xiong Y, Ma W, Spector A, Ho DS (2004) Mice lacking catalase develop normally but show differential sensitivity to oxidant tissue injury. J Biol Chem 279:32804–32812

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Hong J-M, Xia Y-F, Zhang Q, Chen B-Y (2017) Oxidation of benzalkonium chloride in aqueous solution by S2O82−/Fe2+ process: degradation pathway, and toxicity evaluation. J Taiwan Inst Chem Eng 78:230–239

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Jiang Q, He X, Shui Y, Lyu X, Wang L, Xu L, Chen Z, Zou L, Zhou X, Cheng L, Li M (2021) d-Alanine metabolic pathway, a potential target for antibacterial drug designing in Enterococcus faecalis. Microb Pathog 158:105078

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Kaur B, Kattel E, Dulova N (2020) Insights into nonylphenol degradation by UV-activated persulfate and persulfate/hydrogen peroxide systems in aqueous matrices: a comparative study. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int 27:22499–22510

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Korch SB, Stomel JM, Leon MA, Hamada MA, Stevenson CR, Simpson BW, Gujulla SK, Chaput JC (2013) ATP sequestration by a synthetic ATP-binding protein leads to novel phenotypic changes in Escherichia coli. ACS Chem Biol 8:451–463

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Landis GN, Tower J (2005) Superoxide dismutase evolution and life span regulation. Mech Ageing Dev 126:365–379

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Li J, Suo Y, Liao X, Ahn J, Liu D, Chen S, Ye X, Ding T (2017) Analysis of Staphylococcus aureus cell viability, sublethal injury and death induced by synergistic combination of ultrasound and mild heat. Ultrason Sonochem 39:101–110

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Liao X, Liu D, Ding T (2020) Nonthermal plasma induces the viable-but-nonculturable state in Staphylococcus aureus via metabolic suppression and the oxidative stress response. Appl Environ Microbiol 86

  • Lin H, Ye C, Chen S, Zhang S, Yu X (2017) Viable but non-culturable E. coli induced by low level chlorination have higher persistence to antibiotics than their culturable counterparts. Environ Pollut 230:242–249

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Liochev SI (2013) Reactive oxygen species and the free radical theory of aging. Free Radic Biol Med 60:1–4

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Lisec J, Schauer N, Kopka J, Willmitzer L, Fernie AR (2006) Gas chromatography mass spectrometry–based metabolite profiling in plants. Nat Protoc 1:387–396

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Liu L, Chen Z, Zhang J, Shan D, Wu Y, Bai L, Wang B (2021) Treatment of industrial dye wastewater and pharmaceutical residue wastewater by advanced oxidation processes and its combination with nanocatalysts: a review. Journal of Water. Process Eng 42

  • Liu Y, Ji X, Yang J, Tang W, Zhu Y, Wang Y, Zhang Y, Zhang Y, Duan J, Li W (2022) Degradation of the typical herbicide atrazine by UV/persulfate: kinetics and mechanisms. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int 29:43928–43941

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Liu Y, Pang X, Song J, Liu X, Song J, Yuan Y, Zhao C (2019) Exploring the membrane toxicity of decabromodiphenyl ethane (DBDPE): Based on cell membranes and lipid membranes model. Chemosphere 216:524–532

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Lutze HV, Kerlin N, Schmidt TC (2015) Sulfate radical-based water treatment in presence of chloride: formation of chlorate, inter-conversion of sulfate radicals into hydroxyl radicals and influence of bicarbonate. Water Res 72:349–360

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Marjanovic M, Giannakis S, Grandjean D, de Alencastro LF, Pulgarin C (2018) Effect of muM Fe addition, mild heat and solar UV on sulfate radical-mediated inactivation of bacteria, viruses, and micropollutant degradation in water. Water Res 140:220–231

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Martegani E, Bolognese F, Trivellin N, Orlandi VT (2020) Effect of blue light at 410 and 455 nm on Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilm. J Photochem Photobiol B 204:111790

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Moreno-Andres J, Farinango G, Romero-Martinez L, Acevedo-Merino A, Nebot E (2019) Application of persulfate salts for enhancing UV disinfection in marine waters. Water Res 163:114866

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Nasiłowska J, Sokołowska B, Fonberg-Frączek M (2019) Behavior of Listeria innocua strains under pressure treatment — inactivation and sublethal injury. Polish J Food Nutr Sci 69:45–52

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • She P, Wang Y, Liu Y, Tan F, Chen L, Luo Z, Wu Y (2019) Effects of exogenous glucose on Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilm formation and antibiotic resistance. Microbiologyopen 8:e933

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sies H, Berndt C, Jones DP (2017) Oxidative stress. Annu Rev Biochem 86:715–748

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Tsitonaki A, Petri B, Crimi M, MosbÆK H, Siegrist RL, Bjerg PL (2010) In situ chemical oxidation of contaminated soil and groundwater using persulfate: a review. Crit Rev Environ Sci Technol 40:55–91

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Wang L, Ye C, Guo L, Chen C, Kong X, Chen Y, Shu L, Wang P, Yu X, Fang J (2021a) Assessment of the UV/chlorine process in the disinfection of Pseudomonas aeruginosa: efficiency and mechanism. Environ Sci Technol 55:9221–9230

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Wang M, Ateia M, Awfa D, Yoshimura C (2021b) Regrowth of bacteria after light-based disinfection — what we know and where we go from here. Chemosphere 268:128850

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Wang W, Wang H, Li G, Wong PK, An T (2020) Visible light activation of persulfate by magnetic hydrochar for bacterial inactivation: efficiency, recyclability and mechanisms. Water Res 176:115746

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Wang Y, Wu Y, Wang Y, Xu H, Mei X, Yu D, Wang Y, Li W (2017) Antioxidant properties of probiotic bacteria. Nutrients 9

  • Wang Z, Wan Y, Xie P, Zhou A, Ding J, Wang J, Zhang L, Wang S, Zhang TC (2019) Ultraviolet/persulfate (UV/PS) pretreatment of typical natural organic matter (NOM): variation of characteristics and control of membrane fouling. Chemosphere 214:136–147

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Wilkinson MG (2018) Flow cytometry as a potential method of measuring bacterial viability in probiotic products: a review. Trends Food Sci Technol 78:1–10

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Ye S, Zeng G, Wu H, Liang J, Zhang C, Dai J, Xiong W, Song B, Wu S, Yu J (2019) The effects of activated biochar addition on remediation efficiency of co-composting with contaminated wetland soil. Resour Conserv Recycl 140:278–285

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ye S, Zeng G, Wu H, Zhang C, Liang J, Dai J, Liu Z, Xiong W, Wan J, Xu P, Cheng M (2017) Co-occurrence and interactions of pollutants, and their impacts on soil remediation—a review. Crit Rev Environ Sci Technol 47:1528–1553

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zhang S, Ye C, Lin H, Lv L, Yu X (2015) UV disinfection induces a Vbnc state in Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Environ Sci Technol 49:1721–1728

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Zhang W, Gao J, Lu L, Bold T, Li X, Wang S, Chang Z, Chen J, Kong X, Zheng Y, Zhang M, Tang J (2021) Intracellular GSH/GST antioxidants system change as an earlier biomarker for toxicity evaluation of iron oxide nanoparticles. NanoImpact 23

  • Zhang Y, Wei M, Huang K, Yu K, Liang J, Wei F, Huang J, Yin X (2022) Inactivation of E. coli and Streptococcus agalactiae by UV/persulfate during marine aquaculture disinfection. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int 29:45421–45434

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Zheng T, Li J, Liu C (2021) Improvement of alpha-amylase to the metabolism adaptions of soil bacteria against PFOS exposure. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 208:111770

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Zilmer M, Soomets U, Rehema A, Langel U (2005) The glutathione system as an attractive therapeutic target. Drug Design Rev Online (Discontinued) 2:121–127

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references


We would like to thank Haiyan Yu, Yan Zhang, and Zhifeng Li from State Key Laboratory of Microbial Technology of Shandong University for help and guidance in GC-MS/MS, micro-Raman spectrometer, and flow cytometry.


The National Natural Science Foundation of China (42077391) and Guangdong Foundation for Program of Science and Technology Research (2020B1212060053) have funded this research.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



Zaihui Huang: experiment, writing—original draft, data curation, investigation, methodology; Zheng Qi: investigation, methodology, formal analysis; Chunguang Liu: experiment design, data analysis, and writing.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Chunguang Liu.

Ethics declarations

Ethics approval

All authors s stated that this study did not involve ethical issues.

Consent to participate

All the authors agreed to submit the paper.

Consent for publication

All the authors agreed to publish the paper.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Responsible Editor: Ricardo A. Torres-Palma

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary information


(DOCX 992 kb)

Rights and permissions

Springer Nature or its licensor (e.g. a society or other partner) holds exclusive rights to this article under a publishing agreement with the author(s) or other rightsholder(s); author self-archiving of the accepted manuscript version of this article is solely governed by the terms of such publishing agreement and applicable law.

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Huang, Z., Qi, Z. & Liu, C. Evaluation of the disinfection effect and mechanism of SO4•− and HO UV/persulfate salts. Environ Sci Pollut Res 30, 52380–52389 (2023).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: