Castro-Alférez M, Polo-López MI, Fernández-Ibáñez P. Intracellular mechanisms of solar water disinfection. Science Reports. 2016 Dec 2;6:38145. doi: 10.1038/srep38145.
Solar water disinfection (SODIS) is a zero-cost intervention measure to disinfect drinking water in areas of poor access to improved water sources, used by more than 6 million people in the world. The bactericidal action of solar radiation in water has been widely proven, nevertheless the causes for this remain still unclear. Scientific literature points out that generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) inside microorganisms promoted by solar light absorption is the main reason. For the first time, this work reports on the experimental measurement of accumulated intracellular ROS in E. coli during solar irradiation. For this experimental achievement, a modified protocol based on the fluorescent probe dichlorodihydrofluorescein diacetate (DCFH-DA), widely used for oxidative stress in eukaryotic cells, has been tested and validated for E. coli. Our results demonstrate that ROS and their accumulated oxidative damages at intracellular level are key in solar water disinfection.