Synthetic consolidants attacked by melanin-producing fungi: Case study of the biodeterioration of Milan (Italy) cathedral marble treated with acrylics

Francesca Cappitelli, Joshua D. Nosanchuk, Arturo Casadevall, Lucia Toniolo, Lorenzo Brusetti, Sofia Florio, Pamela Principi, Sara Borin, Claudia Sorlini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

37 Scopus citations

Abstract

Monuments and artistic stone surfaces are often consolidated and protected with synthetic polymers, in particular, acrylics. Although it is generally thought that acrylic polymers are resistant to biodeterioration, we report for the first time the systematic occurrence of dematiaceous meristematic fungi on many marble samples of the cathedral in Milan (Italy) previously treated with this material. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy applied to the Milan cathedral stone samples revealed characteristic features of biodeteriorated synthetic resins that differentiated them from the aged but nonbiodeteriorated samples. Samples showing biological colonization were analyzed for the presence of fungi. Cultivation and morphological characterization and methods independent from cultivation, such as denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis coupled with partial 18S rRNA gene sequencing and immunofluorescence staining with melanin-binding antibodies, showed that melanin-producing species are heavily present on stone surfaces protected with acrylic resins. This observation raises the question of the effectiveness of acrylics in protecting stone artworks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-277
Number of pages7
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Volume73
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology

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