Inactivation of Streptomyces phage ɸC31 by 405 nm light: requirement for exogenous photosensitizers?

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Exposure to narrowband violet-blue light around 405 nm wavelength can induce lethal oxidative damage to bacteria and fungi, however effects on viruses are unknown. As photosensitive porphyrin molecules are involved in the microbicidal inactivation mechanism, and since porphyrins are absent in viruses, then any damaging effects of 405 nm light on viruses might appear unlikely. This study used the bacteriophage ɸC31, as a surrogate for non-enveloped double-stranded DNA viruses, to establish whether 405 nm light can induce virucidal effects. Exposure of ɸC31 suspended in minimal media, nutrient-rich media, and porphyrin solution, demonstrated differing sensitivity of the phage. Significant reductions in phage titre occurred when exposed in nutrient-rich media, with ~3, 5 and 7-log10 reductions achieved after exposure to doses of 0.3, 0.5 and 1.4 kJ/cm2, respectively. When suspended in minimal media a 0.3 log10 reduction (P=0.012) occurred after exposure to 306 J/cm2: much lower than the 2.7 and >2.5 log10 reductions achieved with the same dose in nutrient-rich, and porphyrin-supplemented media, suggesting inactivation is accelerated by the photo-activation of light-sensitive components in the media. This study provides the first evidence of the interaction of narrowband 405 nm light with viruses, and demonstrates that viral susceptibility to 405 nm light can be significantly enhanced by involvement of exogenous photosensitive components. The reduced susceptibility of viruses in minimal media, compared to that of other microorganisms, provides further evidence that the antimicrobial action of 405 nm light is predominantly due to the photo-excitation of endogenous photosensitive molecules such as porphyrins within susceptible microorganisms.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere32129
Number of pages6
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2014


  • inactivation
  • streptomyces
  • exogenous photosensitizers
  • narrowband violet-blue light
  • oxidative damage
  • bacteria
  • fungi
  • bacteriophage ɸC31
  • exogenous photosensitive components
  • porphyrins
  • susceptible microorganisms


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