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Characterization of UV-Peroxide Killing of Bacterial Spores

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Advantage is taken in many sterilization processes, especially for food packaging materials, of the synergy between H2O2 and UV irradiation for spore killing. The nature of the synergy is currently not well defined in terms of targets and mechanisms. We found that under some experimental conditions, the synergistic killing of spores of Bacillus megaterium ATCC 19213 appeared to be mainly UV-enhanced peroxide killing, while under other conditions, it appeared to be mainly peroxide-enhanced UV killing. Lethal combinations of H2O2 and UV irradiation for spores resulted in only modest increases in auxotrophic mutations among survivors, indicative of little DNA damage, in contrast to higher mutation levels after dry-heat damage at 115°C. However, the combination of UV light and peroxide did lead to major inactivation of glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase, an enzyme that was used to monitor the damage to bacterial protein. Synergistic UV-H2O2 killing was reduced by agents such as pyruvate, thiosulfate, and iron or copper cations, which appeared to act at least in part by reacting chemically with H2O2, and was only slightly affected by the use of UV light at a wavelength of 222 nm rather than 254 nm. Hydrogen peroxide treatment can precede UV irradiation for synergistic killing by some hours with an interim of drying for spores of Bacillus subtilis A, a spore type used commonly for the validation of aseptic processes. Synergistic killing of dried spores or those in suspensions was accelerated at higher temperatures (50°C) rather than at lower temperatures (25°C).


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Microbiology & Immunology, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, New York 14642-8672, USA

Publication date: July 1, 2003

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