UV inactivation of rotavirus and tulane virus targets different components of the virions

Elbashir Araud, Miyu Fuzawa, Joanna L. Shisler, Jianrong Li, Thanh H. Nguyen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Enteric viruses are shed in fecal material by humans and other animals and are common contaminants in wastewater and surface water. Wastewater treatment plants often disinfect this effluent with low-pressure and medium-pressure UV lamps, which emit 254-nm and 220- to 280-nm irradiation, respectively. It is not known whether this treatment is efficacious against enteric viruses or how such treatments may inactivate these enteric viruses. This study examined UV disinfection for two enteric viruses: rotavirus (RV) (strain OSU with double-stranded RNA and a three-layer capsid) and Tulane virus (TV) (a cultivable surrogate for human norovirus with single-stranded RNA and a single-layer capsid). Viruses were treated with UV irradiation at 220 or 254 nm under conditions relevant to wastewater stabilization ponds, whose water is often used for irrigation. TV was susceptible to 220- or 254-nm UV at similar levels. It appears that UV irradiation inactivated TV by mutagenizing both its genome and capsid binding proteins. RV was more susceptible to UV at 220 nm than to UV at 254 nm. UV irradiation of RV at either 220 or 254 nm resulted in a virus that retained its ability to bind to its host cell receptor. After 220-nm treatment, the VP7 segment of the RV genome could not be amplified by PCR, suggesting that this treatment mutagenized the viral genome. However, this correlation was not observed when UV at 254 nm was used. Thus, RV and TV, with different genome and capsid contents, are targeted by UV irradiation in different ways. IMPORTANCE UV irradiation is becoming common for disinfection in water treatment plants, but little is known about the effectiveness of this treatment for enteric RNA viruses. Here, we observed that 220-nm UV irradiation was efficacious against rotavirus (RV) and Tulane virus (TV). UV irradiation at 254 nm inactivated TV to a greater extent than RV. Additional assays showed that UV irradiation compromised different portions of the RV and TV life cycles. UV irradiation decreased the binding of TV to its host receptor and mutagenized the TV genome. UV irradiation at 220 nm appeared to allow RV-host receptor interaction but halted RV genome replication. These findings provide knowledge about the disinfection of waterborne viruses, information that is important for the safe reuse or release of treated wastewater.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere02436
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020


  • Noroviruses
  • Rotavirus
  • UV disinfection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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