Inactivation of Virulent Burkholderia pseudomallei by Sunlight


*Corresponding author email: (Jose-Luis Sagripanti)


The goal of this study was to determine the sensitivity of virulent Burkholderia pseudomallei to natural sunlight. We describe solar dosimetry calibrated to integrate radiation between 295 and 305 nm and an exposure system that minimizes thermal effects on bacterial cells. Burkholderia pseudomallei cells were either exposed to sunlight in UV transparent dishes or maintained in the dark covered by opaque foil. The cells maintained in the dark remained at constant levels for the duration of all experiments. The exposed cells nearby were killed with a kinetic studied through 5 Log10 inactivation. We found that cells in stationary phase of growth were nearly two-fold more resistant to sunlight than cells in lag or exponential growth. A virulent strain of B. pseudomallei that produced mucoid colonies showed sensitivity to sunlight similar to both a virulent strain that produced nonmucoid colonies and a strain of B. thailandensis. The inactivation of B. pseudomallei by sunlight in different types of water of environmental relevance or inside amoebae was investigated. The sensitivity of virulent B. pseudomallei was calculated and its comparison with previous studies employing monochromatic germicidal light (254 nm) is discussed. This may be the first report in the open literature of the inactivation of a virulent biological threat agent by natural sunlight. These data should assist in estimating the risk for contracting melioidosis and in predicting the time period during which B. pseudomallei remains infectious after an accidental or intentional release in the environment.