ABSTRACT: The Grande Albergo Ausonia & Hungaria (Venice Lido, Italy) has an Art Nouveau polychrome ceramic coating on its façade, which was restored in 2007. Soon after the conservation treatment, many tiles of the façade decoration showed coloured alterations putatively attributed to the presence of microbial communities. To confirm the presence of the biological deposit and the stratigraphy of the Hungaria tiles, stereomicroscope, optical and environmental scanning electron microscope observations were made. The characterisation of the microbial community was performed using a PCR-DGGE approach. This study reported the first use of a culture-independent approach to identify the total community present in biodeteriorated artistic tiles. The case study examined here reveals that the coloured alterations on the tiles were mainly due to the presence of cryptoendolithic cyanobacteria. In addition, we proved that the microflora present on the tiles was generally greatly influenced by the environment of the Hungaria hotel. We found several microorganisms related to the alkaline environment, which is in the range of the tile pH, and related to the aquatic environment, the presence of the acrylic resin Paraloid B72® used during the 2007 treatment and the pollutants of the Venice lagoon.
Microbial Ecology 02/2011; 62(2):287-98. · 2.91 Impact Factor