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UV Disinfection Induces a Vbnc State in Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa

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journal contribution
posted on 03.02.2015, 00:00 by Shenghua Zhang, Chengsong Ye, Huirong Lin, Lu Lv, Xin Yu
The occurrence of a viable but nonculturable (VBNC) state in bacteria may dramatically underestimate the health risks associated with drinking water. Therefore, the potential for UV treatment to induce a VBNC state in Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa was investigated. UV disinfection effectively reduced the culturability of E. coli and P. aeruginosa, with the destruction of nucleic acids demonstrated using gadA long gene fragment qPCR amplification. Following UV radiation, copy numbers for the high transcriptional levels of the 16S rRNA gene varied insignificantly in both strains, confirming results from plate counting assays indicating that VBNC states were induced in both strains. Furthermore, the virulence genes gadA and oprL remained highly expressed, suggesting that the VBNC bacteria still displayed pathogenicity. Propidium monoazide qPCR indicated that cell membranes remained intact even at a UV dose of 300 mJ/cm2. The RT-qPCR results after UV and chlorine treatments in E. coli were significantly different (8.41 and 5.59 log units, respectively), further confirming the induction of VBNC bacteria induced by UV radiation. Finally, resuscitation was achieved, with E. coli showing greater resuscitation ability than P. aeruginosa. These results systematically revealed the potential health risks of UV disinfection and strongly suggest a combined disinfection strategy.