Fungi: Their role in deterioration of cultural heritage

Fungal Biology Reviews 02/2010; 24(1-2):47-55. DOI: 10.1016/j.fbr.2010.03.003

ABSTRACT Fungi play a considerable role for the deterioration of cultural heritage. Due to their enormous enzymatic activity and their ability to grow at low aw values fungi are able to inhabit and to decay paintings, textiles, paper, parchment, leather, oil, casein, glue and other materials used for historical art objects. The weathering of stone monuments is significantly increased by epi- and endolitic fungi. In museums and their storage rooms, climate control, regular cleaning and microbiological monitoring are essential in order to prevent fungal contamination. Education and close collaboration of mycologists and restorers are needed to develop object specific methods for the conservation and treatment of contaminated objects.

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Available from: Katja Sterflinger, Aug 14, 2015
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    • "Different species of the genera Acremonium, Aspergillus, Chrysosporium, Cladosporium, Penicillium and Scopulariopsis were already mentioned as inhabitants of indoor mural paintings environments (Guglieminetti et al., 1994; Garg et al., 1995; Berner et al., 1997; Gorbushina and Petersen, 2000; Saarela et al., 2004). It has been demonstrated that fungal growth induces serious deterioration, varying from superficial to profound alterations of the painting structure, such as variously coloured stains, alteration of pigments and detachment of fragments by hyphal penetration considering that some fungal species can enter up to 10 mm inside the plaster (Nugari et al., 1998; Sterflinger, 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: The inspection of the quality of the indoor air in which a work of art or a historical artefact is kept becomes essential for its conservation. The determination of organic pollutants represents an important tool in pre-emptive conservation. The study investigated the quality of the air in the crypt of the Basilica of St. Peter in Perugia (Italy) through different methodologies. The objectives included the analysis of the levels of biological particulates of fungal origin, and the determination of the degree of variability of the airborne spore concentrations, as indicative of the level of contamination of the environment. The quantitative analysis of the airborne fungal component demonstrates that across the whole period considered there were wide variations in the bioaerosols, heterogeneous spore distributions and different peak concentrations in the areas studied. The qualitative analysis of the airborne fungal component allowed the determination of the different fungal genera present, both in the interior of the crypt and in the outside environment. The analysis of the data shows an increasing trend over the period considered, with the highest values during the months of June and July.
    International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation 03/2015; 98. DOI:10.1016/j.ibiod.2014.12.010 · 2.24 Impact Factor
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    • "In places where there is poor design and a moist environment (e.g., homes, hotels, schools, and other structural buildings), Fusarium and Alternaria mold growth has been detected (Fogel and Lloyd 2002; Xu et al. 2013). In addition, there are difficulties in killing fungi using natural substances (biocides) or other antifungal treatments because of their thick cell walls (Sterflinger 2010). Fusarium and Alternaria species are the most common hyphomycetes in museums and are components of materials used in paintings (oil, water color, acrylic), "
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    ABSTRACT: Natural compounds from certain timber trees are highly valued and recommended to protect wood and wood products against mold fungi. This study highlighted the use of some natural extracts and Paraloid B-72 against the growth of two mold fungi, namely Alternaria tenuissima and Fusarium culmorum. From the in vitro experiment, the methanol extracts of Callistemon viminalis bark were effective against the growth of F. culmorum, as were Magnolia grandiflora leaves against A. tenuissima. Environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM) and electron dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) analysis of treated Acacia saligna wood with the two fungi and Paraloid B-72 demonstrated the clear hyphal growth of F. culmorum and A. tenuissima and changes in elemental chemical composition. After three months, no fungal growth on the wood surface treated with the methanol extract of M. pomifera bark was found. After three months of treating wood with Paraloid B-72 at 5% and 10%, the mold growth was visible. Almost all of the wood treated with methanol extracts showed growth of the A. tenuissima hypha, as well as some contamination by other microorganisms, except for the wood treated with the methanol extract of M. pomifera bark.
    Bioresources 03/2015; 10(2):2570-2584. DOI:10.15376/biores.10.2.2570-2584 · 1.55 Impact Factor
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    • "In the old maps drawn by Leonardo the raw materials were mainly composed of selected cotton cloth containing almost pure cellulose [1]. The biological attack of paper materials is therefore mainly due to cellulolytic organisms such as bacteria and fungi [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]. The presence in these organisms of the cellulase enzyme complex can catalyze specific actions to break the polymer. "
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    ABSTRACT: Following the discovery of discoloration on some pages of the Atlantic Codex (AC) of Leonardo da Vinci kept in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan, some investigations have been carried out to verify the presence of microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi. To verify the presence of microorganisms a noninvasive method of sampling has been used that was efficient and allowed us to highlight the microbial facies of the material that was examined using conventional microbiological techniques. The microclimatic conditions in the storage room as well as the water content of the volume were also assessed. The combined observations allowed the conclusion that the discoloration of suspected biological origin on some pages of AC is not related to the presence or current attack of microbial agents.
    International Journal of Microbiology 12/2014; 2014:214364. DOI:10.1155/2014/214364
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Questions & Answers about this publication

  • Phil Geis added an answer in Isolation of Fungi:
    Can anyone help me with methods and/or literature for sampling and isolating fungi from mineral substrates, without damaging rock's surface?

    I am looking to isolate some fungi from stone buildings, and I have some sampling and isolating methods I am gonna use. But, I am looking for alternative methods also. Any piece of literature you can give me in this direction will be of help to me. Thanks, have a good day!

    Phil Geis · GMQ

    Look at this article - accessible through Researchgate

    Please be aware that fungi responsible for deterioration of cultural properties are often osmophilic and grow very slowly.  You'll need to discern these from the general fungal presence - most of which will be incidental.  What media do you plan to use and can you supplement your work with someDNA analysis?