Action Spectra

  • John Calkins
  • Jeanne A. Barcelo
Part of the NATO Conference Series book series (NATOCS, volume 7)


An “action spectrum” is a determination of the relative response upon exposure to a series of monochromatic radiations sampling a given spectral range (For review see Loofbourow, 1948, Giese, 1968). Action spectra may be determined for many different purposes. By determining action spectra for the killing of microorganisms exposed to ultraviolet radiation, it was observed that the most efficient wavelengths were those corresponding to the maximum absorption of DNA. Through the close correspondence of the action spectrum and DNA absorption, the critical importance of DNA in living organisms was deduced by action spectroscopy before the biological role of DNA was established by non-optical means. It is reasonable to expect that the primary chromophore of many biological processes, induced by solar ultraviolet radiation, may be revealed by action spectra.


Lethal Effect Action Spectrum Ionize Radiation Exposure Solar Ultraviolet Radiation Dosimetry System 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Calkins
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jeanne A. Barcelo
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Radiation MedicineUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA
  2. 2.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA

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