Ultraviolet-B radiation (280–320 nm) has long been associated with the inactivation of microorganisms in the natural environment. Determination of the environmental inactivation kinetics of specific indicator organisms [used as tools in the field of microbial source tracking (MST)] is fundamental to their successful deployment, particularly in geographic regions subject to high levels of solar radiation. Phage infecting Bacteroides fragilis host strain GB124 (B124 phage) have been demonstrated to be highly specific indicators of human fecal contamination, but to date, little is known about their susceptibility to UV-B radiation. Therefore, B124 phage (n = 7) isolated from municipal wastewater effluent, were irradiated in a controlled laboratory environment using UV-B collimated beam experiments. All B124 phage suspensions possessed highly similar first order log-linear inactivation profiles and the mean fluence required to inactivate phage by 4 log10 was 320 mJ cm2. These findings suggest that phage infecting GB124 are likely to be inactivated when exposed to the levels of UV-B solar radiation experienced in a variety of environmental settings. As such, this may limit the utility of such methods for determining more remote inputs of fecal contamination in areas subject to high levels of solar radiation.
- School of Environment and Technology - Professor of Environmental Microbiology
- Centre for Aquatic Environments
- Centre for Spatial, Environmental and Cultural Politics
- Environment and Public Health Research and Enterprise Group