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Bacterial inactivation, DNA damage, and faster ATP degradation induced by ultraviolet disinfection

Abstract

The efficacy of ultraviolet (UV) disinfection has been validated in numerous studies by using culture-based methods. However, the discovery of viable but non-culturable bacteria has necessitated the investigation of UV disinfection based on bacterial viability parameters. We used quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) to investigate DNA damage and evaluated adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to indicate bacterial viability. The results of qPCR effectively showed the DNA damage induced by UV when using longer gene amplicons, in that sufficiently long amplicons of both 16S and gadA indicated that the UV induced DNA damages. The copy concentrations of the long amplicons of 16S and gadA decreased by 2.38 log/mL and 1.88 log/mL, respectively, after exposure to 40 mJ/cm2 low-pressure UV. After UV exposure, the ATP level in the bacteria did not decrease instantly. Instead it decreased gradually at a rate that was positively related to the UV fluence. For low-pressure UV, this rate of decrease was slow, but for medium pressure UV, this rate of decrease was relatively high when the UV fluence reached 40 mJ/cm2. At the same UV fluence, the ATP level in the bacteria decreased at a faster rate after exposure to medium-pressure UV.

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported by the Chinese Major National R&D Project (Nos. 2017ZX07108-003 and 2017ZX07502003).

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Correspondence to Wenjun Sun.

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Highlights

• Long amplicon is more effective to test DNA damage induced by UV.

• ATP in bacteria does not degrade instantly but does eventually after UV exposure.

• After medium pressure UV exposure, ATP degraded faster.

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Yang, C., Sun, W. & Ao, X. Bacterial inactivation, DNA damage, and faster ATP degradation induced by ultraviolet disinfection. Front. Environ. Sci. Eng. 14, 13 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11783-019-1192-6

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Keywords

  • UV disinfection
  • DNA damage
  • qPCR
  • ATP