Impact of UV irradiation at full scale on bacterial communities in drinking water

Kristjan Pullerits, Jon Ahlinder, Linda Holmer, Emelie Salomonsson, Caroline Öhrman, Karin Jacobsson, Rikard Dryselius, Mats Forsman, Catherine J. Paul, Peter Rådström

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Water in a full-scale drinking water treatment plant was irradiated with ultraviolet (UV) doses of 250, 400, and 600 J/m2, and the effect on bacterial communities investigated using 16s rRNA gene amplicon sequencing, heterotrophic plate counts (HPCs), coliform, and Escherichia coli counts. The bacteria in the irradiated water were also analyzed following storage for 6 days at 7 °C, to approximate the conditions in the distribution system. The log10 reduction of HPCs at 400 J/m2 was 0.43 ± 0.12. Phylogenetic examination, including DESeq2 analysis, showed that Actinobacteria was more resistant to UV irradiation, whereas Bacteroidetes was sensitive to UV. Phylum Proteobacteria contained monophyletic groups that were either sensitive or resistant to UV exposure. The amplicon sequence variants (ASVs) resistant to UV irradiation had a greater average GC content than the ASVs sensitive to UV, at 55% ± 1.7 (n = 19) and 49% ± 2.5 (n = 16), respectively. Families Chitinophagaceae, Pelagibacteraceae, Holophagaceae, Methylophilaceae, and Cytophagaceae decreased linearly in relative abundance, with increasing UV dose (P < 0.05, Pearson’s correlation). When irradiated water was stored, Chitinophagaceae, Comamonadaceae, and Flavobacteriaceae families decreased in relative abundance, whereas ACK-M1, Mycobacteriaceae, and Nitrosomonadaceae were increasing in relative abundance. This suggests that the impact of UV irradiation cannot only be considered directly after application but that this treatment step likely continues to influence microbial dynamics throughout the distribution system.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11
Journalnpj Clean Water
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Water Engineering


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