Abstract— Populations of radiation sensitive spores (Bacillus subtilis UVSSP), vegetative bacteria (E. coli K12-AB2480) and bacteriophage (E. coli phage T4vx) have been considered as possible biological dosimeters to integrate DNA-absorbed solar energy incident on the Earth's surface.
Irradiation of spores of B. subtilis UVSSP with monochromatic far- and near-UV radiation and solar radiation have indicated that these radiations have a similar efficiency in inducing spore photoproducts per lethal event. Action spectra for lethality taken with the three radiation sensitive biological systems show a similar pattern in each case with a broad shoulder in the 334–365 nm wavelength region. This finding indicates a relatively high susceptibility of the DNA to chemical alteration in this wavelength range. Although less sensitive to sunlight than the other biological systems tested, the B. subtilis UVSSP spore mutant has the advantage of temperature independence of inactivation, stability between irradiation and assay and a simple, reproducible irradiation and assay procedure. Field measurements have supported the utility of this mutant as a sunlight dosimeter.