Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Applied and Environmental Microbiology






e00726-18 (10 pages)




ABSTRACT Viruses cause serious pathogenic contamination that severely affects the environment and human health. Cold atmospheric-pressure plasma efficiently inactivates pathogenic bacteria; however, the mechanism of virus inactivation by plasma is not fully understood. In this study, surface plasma in argon mixed with 1% air and plasma-activated water was used to treat water containing bacteriophages. Both agents efficiently inactivated bacteriophages T4, ϕ174, and MS2 in a time-dependent manner. Prolonged storage had marginal effects on the antiviral activity of plasma-activated water. DNA and protein analysis revealed that the reactive species generated by plasma damaged both nucleic acids and proteins, consistent with the morphological examination showing that plasma treatment caused the aggregation of bacteriophages. The inactivation of bacteriophages was alleviated by the singlet oxygen scavengers, demonstrating that singlet oxygen played a primary role in this process. Our findings provide a potentially effective disinfecting strategy to combat the environmental viruses using cold atmospheric-pressure plasma and plasma-activated water.

IMPORTANCE Contamination with pathogenic and infectious viruses severely threatens human health and animal husbandry. Current methods for disinfection have different disadvantages, such as inconvenience and contamination of disinfection by-products (e.g., chlorine disinfection). In this study, atmospheric surface plasma in argon mixed with air and plasma-activated water was found to efficiently inactivate bacteriophages, and plasma-activated water still had strong antiviral activity after prolonged storage. Furthermore, it was shown that bacteriophage inactivation was associated with damage to nucleic acids and proteins by singlet oxygen. An understanding of the biological effects of plasma-based treatment is useful to inform the development of plasma into a novel disinfecting strategy with convenience and no by-product.


This is an open- access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

© 2018 Guo et al.

Original Publication Citation

Guo, L., Xu, R., Gou, L., Liu, Z., Zhao, Y., Liu, D., . . . Kong, M. G. (2018). Mechanism of virus inactivation by cold atmospheric-pressure plasma and plasma-activated water. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 84(17), e00726-18. doi: