The response of a representative virus and indicator bacteria to heating, solar irradiation, or their combination, was investigated in a controlled solar simulator and under real sun conditions. Heating showed higher inactivation of Escherichia coli compared to the bacteriophage MS2. Heating combined with natural or simulated solar irradiation demonstrated a synergistic effect on the inactivation of E. coli, with up to 3-log difference for 50 °C and natural sun insolation of 2,000 kJ m−2 (compared to the sum of the separate treatments). Similar synergistic effect was also evident when solar-UV induced DNA damage to E. coli was assessed using the endonuclease sensitive site assay (ESS). MS2 was found to be highly resistant to irradiation and heat, with a slightly synergistic effect observed only at 59 °C and natural sun insolation of 5,580 kJ m−2. Heat treatment also hindered light-dependent recovery of E. coli making the treatment much more effective.

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