Lethal Effects on Biological Systems Caused by Solar Ultraviolet Light: Molecular Considerations

  • Meyrick J. Peak
  • Jennifer G. Peak
Part of the NATO Conference Series book series (NATOCS, volume 7)


The most closely examined organisms for the measurement of lethal effects of ultraviolet light are the bacteria, and the information we have regarding molecular events leading to cell death is almost entirely derived from work using these microbial systems. Speculations as to ultraviolet light effects upon higher, eukaryotic cells and multicellular organisms are largely extrapolations. A further limitation in our knowledge of ultraviolet effects is that most work has concentrated upon the actions of the most biologically efficient wavelengths below 300 nm (far ultraviolet light, FUV) which are not present in solar-UV reaching the surface of the earth. Further, ready availability has made 254 nm the most widely explored wavelength. Comparatively little emphasis has been placed upon the biologically inefficient, but ecologically important longer wavelengths above 300 nm (near ultraviolet light, NUV). These wavelengths are present in the solar ultraviolet reaching the surface of the earth and penetrating its waters. The following briefly summarizes some of the recent findings relating to the effects of NUV, especially upon bacterial cells and also transforming DNA, and compares these effects with the effects of FUV.


Singlet Oxygen Ultraviolet Light Lethal Effect Action Spectrum Pyrimidine Dimer 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Meyrick J. Peak
    • 1
  • Jennifer G. Peak
    • 1
  1. 1.Mutagenesis Group, Division of Biological and Medical ResearchArgonne National LaboratoryArgonneUSA

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