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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2001 Mar;67(3):1274-9.

Role of dipicolinic acid in survival of Bacillus subtilis spores exposed to artificial and solar UV radiation.

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  • 1Department of Veterinary Science and Microbiology, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA.


Pyridine-2,6-dicarboxylic acid (dipicolinic acid [DPA]) constitutes approximately 10% of Bacillus subtilis spore dry weight and has been shown to play a significant role in the survival of B. subtilis spores exposed to wet heat and to 254-nm UV radiation in the laboratory. However, to date, no work has addressed the importance of DPA in the survival of spores exposed to environmentally relevant solar UV radiation. Air-dried films of spores containing DPA or lacking DPA due to a null mutation in the DPA synthetase operon dpaAB were assayed for their resistance to UV-C (254 nm), UV-B (290 to 320 nm), full-spectrum sunlight (290 to 400 nm), and sunlight from which the UV-B portion was filtered (325 to 400 nm). In all cases, air-dried DPA-less spores were significantly more UV sensitive than their isogenic DPA-containing counterparts. However, the degree of difference in UV resistance between the two strains was wavelength dependent, being greatest in response to radiation in the UV-B portion of the spectrum. In addition, the inactivation responses of DPA-containing and DPA-less spores also depended strongly upon whether spores were exposed to UV as air-dried films or in aqueous suspension. Spores lacking the gerA, gerB, and gerK nutrient germination pathways, and which therefore rely on chemical triggering of germination by the calcium chelate of DPA (Ca-DPA), were also more UV sensitive than wild-type spores to all wavelengths tested, suggesting that the Ca-DPA-mediated spore germination pathway may consist of a UV-sensitive component or components.

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