Pathogenic enteric bacteria are a major cause of drinking water related morbidity and mortality in developing countries. Solar disinfection (SODIS) is an effective means to fight this problem. In the present study, SODIS of two important enteric pathogens, Shigella flexneri and Salmonella typhimurium, was investigated with a variety of viability indicators including cellular ATP levels, efflux pump activity, glucose uptake ability, and polarization and integrity of the cytoplasmic membrane. The respiratory chain of enteric bacteria was identified to be a likely target of sunlight and UVA irradiation. Furthermore, during dark storage after irradiation, the physiological state of the bacterial cells continued to deteriorate even in the absence of irradiation: apparently the cells were unable to repair damage. This strongly suggests that for S. typhimurium and Sh. flexneri, a relatively small light dose is enough to irreversibly damage the cells and that storage of bottles after irradiation does not allow regrowth of inactivated bacterial cells. In addition, we show that light dose reciprocity is an important issue when using simulated sunlight. At high irradiation intensities (>700 W m-2) light dose reciprocity failed and resulted in an overestimation of the effect, whereas reciprocity applied well around natural sunlight intensity (<400 W m-2).
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