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Suppression of photoreactivation of E. coli by excimer far-UV light (222 nm) via damage to multiple targets.

Water Research 2024 March 27
Low-pressure mercury lamps emitting at 254 nm (UV254) are used widely for disinfection. However, subsequent exposure to visible light results in photoreactivation of treated bacteria. This study employed a krypton chloride excimer lamp emitting at 222 nm (UV222) to inactivate E. coli. UV222 and UV254 treatment had similar E. coli-inactivation kinetics. Upon subsequent irradiation with visible light, E. coli inactivated by UV254 was reactivated from 2.71-log to 4.75-log, whereas E. coli inactivated by UV222 showed negligible photoreactivation. UV222 treatment irreversibly broke DNA strands in the bacterium, whereas UV254 treatment primarily formed nucleobase dimers. Additionally, UV222 treatment caused cell membrane damage, resulting in wizened, pitted cells and permeability changes. The damage to the cell membrane was mainly due to the photolysis of proteins and lipids by UV222. Furthermore, the photolysis of proteins by UV222 destroyed enzymes, which blocked photoreactivation and dark repair. The multiple damages can be further evidenced by 4.0-61.1 times higher quantum yield in the photolysis of nucleobases and amino acids for UV222 than UV254. This study demonstrates that UV222 treatment damages multiple sites in bacteria, leading to their inactivation. Employing UV222 treatment as an alternative to UV254 could be viable for inhibiting microorganism photoreactivation in water and wastewater.

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