Development of a molecular method for testing the effectiveness of UV systems on-site

Limor Nizri, Dalit Vaizel-Ohayon, Hila Ben-Amram, Yehonatan Sharaby, Malka Halpern, Hadas Mamane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We established a molecular method for quantifying ultraviolet (UV) disinfection efficacy using total bacterial DNA in a water sample. To evaluate UV damage to the DNA, we developed the “DNA damage” factor, which is a novel cultivation-independent approach that reveals UV-exposure efficiency by applying a simple PCR amplification method. The study's goal was to prove the feasibility of this method for demonstrating the efficiency of UV systems in the field using flow-through UV reactors. In laboratory-based experiments using seeded bacteria, the DNA damage tests demonstrated a good correlation between PCR products and UV dose. In the field, natural groundwater sampled before and after being subjected to the full-scale UV reactors was filtered, and the DNA extracted from the filtrate was subjected to PCR amplification for a 900-bp fragment of the 16S rRNA gene with initial DNA concentrations of 0.1 and 1 ng/μL. In both cases, the UV dose predicted and explained a significant proportion of the variance in the log inactivation ratio and DNA damage factor. Log inactivation ratio was very low, as expected in groundwater due to low initial bacterial counts, whereas the DNA damage factor was within the range of values obtained in the laboratory-based experiments. Consequently, the DNA damage factor reflected the true performance of the full-scale UV system during operational water flow by using the indigenous bacterial array present in a water sample. By applying this method, we were able to predict with high confidence, the UV reactor inactivation potential. For method validation, laboratory and field iterations are required to create a practical field calibration curve that can be used to determine the expected efficiency of the full-scale UV system in the field under actual operation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-171
Number of pages10
JournalWater Research
StatePublished - 15 Dec 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd


  • Calibration
  • DNA damage
  • Full scale
  • Log inactivation
  • PCR
  • UV reactor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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