Tong, Yongyi, and Bruce Lighthart. 1997. Solar radiation is shown to select for pigmented bacteria in the ambient outdoor atmosphere. Photochemistry and Photobiology 65(1):103-106.
The percentage of pigmented to total bacteria in the outdoor atmospheric population was studied in the field and in controlled laboratory experiments to evaluate the effects of solar radiation (SR) on bacterial survival. The field experiments showed that the percentage of pigmented bacteria positively correlated with SR activity during clear summer days. The percentage was lowest during darkness before dawn and around midnight (ca 33%) and as the SR increased during the day, gradually increased to a maximum of ca 50-60% at noontime to early afternoon and decreased thereafter. In the laboratory the ambient outdoor atmospheric bacteria impacted on culture plates were exposed to simulated SR and a germicidal light. With increased exposure, more nonpigmented bacteria were killed and the percentage of pigmented bacteria gradually increased. These observations suggest an inverse relationship between the atmospheric bacterial survival and the percentage of pigmented bacteria contained therein, thus supporting the notion that pigmentation might provide protection for outdoor atmospheric bacteria from sunlight damage. As a consequence, viable pigmented bacteria (and other UV-resistant forms) in the atmosphere could be enriched under areas of stratospheric ozone depletion