Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bacteria Cause Old Buildings To Feel Off-color

Date:
October 28, 2008
Source:
Springer
Summary:
The assumption that time, weather, and pollution are what cause buildings to decline is only partly true. Bacteria are also responsible for the aging of buildings and monuments -- a process known as biodeterioration. Scientists have just isolated five new strains of bacteria that degrade old buildings.

Old house in Portugal. The assumption that time, weather, and pollution are what cause buildings to decline is only partly true. Bacteria are also responsible for the ageing of buildings and monuments -- a process known as biodeterioration, where organisms change the properties of materials through their vital activities.
Credit: iStockphoto/Nuno Silva

The assumption that time, weather, and pollution are what cause buildings to decline is only partly true. Bacteria are also responsible for the ageing of buildings and monuments – a process known as biodeterioration, where organisms change the properties of materials through their vital activities.

Leonila Laiz from the Institute for Natural Resources and Agrobiology in Seville, Spain, and colleagues have just isolated five new strains of bacteria that degrade old buildings.

Over the last decade, both microbiologists and conservators have been studying the microbial colonization and biodeterioration of both mural paintings in ancient monuments and plaster walls in churches. A specific family of bacteria, Rubrobacter, is commonly found in aged monuments and is thought to be responsible for their rosy discoloration. Until now, only three Rubrobacter species have been identified, and they all thrive in high temperatures of 45 to 80 degrees Celsius (thermophilic bacteria).

Laiz and her team studied three indoor sites showing overt biodeterioration: the Servilia and Postumio tombs in the Roman Necropolis of Carmona in Spain and the Vilar de Frades church in Portugal. Their microbiological and molecular analyses identified five new Rubrobacter strains. The strains are partly involved in the process of efflorescence formation, where salt residues form on buildings, due to the loss of water after exposure to air for a prolonged period of time. Efflorescences lead to damage in the porous structure of the rocks and the gradual deterioration of these buildings.

Two of the newly isolated strains were then grown onto rocks to replicate the biodeterioration process in the laboratory. The Rubrobacter cells penetrated the mineral matrix and crystals formed in contact with the bacterial film. When the film separated from the rock surface after exposure to heat, it removed mineral grains, producing a mechanical deterioration. These three processes are characteristic of biodeterioration and confirm that the isolated bacteria are actively involved in the ageing of the studied buildings.

This study of new Rubrobacter that thrive at lower temperatures (non-thermophilic bacteria) gives another insight into the physiology and activity of these bacteria present in monuments.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Springer. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Laiz et al. Isolation of five Rubrobacter strains from biodeteriorated monuments. Naturwissenschaften, 2008; DOI: 10.1007/s00114-008-0452-2

Cite This Page:

Springer. "Bacteria Cause Old Buildings To Feel Off-color." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 October 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081027140819.htm>.
Springer. (2008, October 28). Bacteria Cause Old Buildings To Feel Off-color. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081027140819.htm
Springer. "Bacteria Cause Old Buildings To Feel Off-color." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081027140819.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) An 8-year-old boy is bitten in the leg by a shark while vacationing at a Florida beach. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A new study claims a set of prehistoric T-Rex footprints supports the theory that the giant predators hunted in packs instead of alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Newsy (July 23, 2014) A U.C. San Diego researcher says jealousy isn't just a human trait, and dogs aren't the best at sharing the attention of humans with other dogs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins