Dipicolinic acid (DPA) and the Ca2+ complex of DPA (CaDPA) are major chemical components of bacterial spores. With fluorescence being considered for the detection and identification of spores, it is important to understand the optical properties of the major components of the spores. We report in some detail on the room-temperature fluorescence excitation and emission spectra of DPA and its calcium ion complex and provide a comparison of the excitation–emission spectrum in a dry, wet paste and aqueous form. DPA solutions have weak, if any, fluorescence, with increased fluorescence when the DPA is dry. After exposure to a broad source UV light of the DPA, wet or dry, we observe a large increase in fluorescence with a maximum intensity emission peak at around 440 nm for excitation light with a wavelength of around 360 nm. There is a slight blueshift in the absorption spectra of UV-exposed DPA from the unexposed DPA solution. CaDPA in solution shows a slight fluorescence with increased fluorescence in the dry form, and a substantial increase of fluorescence was observed after UV exposure with an emission peak of around 410 nm for excitation around 305 nm. The detailed excitation–emission spectra are necessary for better interpretation of the fluorescence spectra of bacterial spores where DPA is a major chemical component.
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