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Journal of Applied Genetics 43(3), 2002, pp. 377-389

Induction of light emission by luminescent bacteria treated with UV light and chemical mutagens

Agata CZYZ, Konrad PLATA, Grzegorz WEGRZYN

Abstract: Intensity of light emission by luminescent bacteria in response to UV irradiation and chemical mutagens was tested. We demonstrated that luminescence of six strains of marine bacteria (belonging to four species: Photobacterium leiognathi, P. phosphoreum, Vibrio fischeri and V. harveyi) is significantly increased by UV irradiation relatively shortly after dilution of cultures. Such a stimulation of luminescence was abolished in cells treated with chloramphenicol 15 min before UV irradiation, indicating that effective gene expression is necessary for UV-mediated induction of light emission. These results suggest that stimulation of luminescence in UV-irradiated bacterial cells may operate independently of the quorum sensing regulation. A significant induction of luminescence was also observed upon treatment of diluted cultures of all investigated strains with chemical mutagens: sodium azide (SA), 2-methoxy-6-chloro-9-(3-(2-chloroethyl)aminopropylamino)acridine 2HCl (ICR-191), 4-nitro-o-phenylenediamine (NPD), 4-nitroquinolone-N-oxide (NQNO), 2-aminofluorene (2-AF), and benzo[α]pyrene. These results support the proposal that genes involved in bioluminescence belong to the SOS regulon. The use of bacterial luminescence systems in assays for detection of mutagenic compounds is discussed in the light of this proposal.

Key words: bioluminescence, chemical mutagens, Photobacterium leiognathi, Photobacterium phosphoreum, UV irradiation, Vibrio fischeri, Vibrio harveyi.

Correspondence: G. WEGRZYN, Department of Molecular Biology, University of Gdansk, ul. Kladki 24, 80-822 Gdansk, Poland, e-mail:

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