Special Issues are flexible collections of articles, that have a common topic. The articles may be published in various monthly issues.


Our cultural heritage is a defining feature of our societies that needs to be further inherited to future generations. However, this legacy is endangered by several instances, including biodeterioration. Indeed, microorganisms play a significant role in the decline of all forms of tangible cultural heritage, including movable (paintings, sculptures, coins, manuscripts), immovable (monuments, archaeological sites, etc.) and underwater cultural heritage (shipwrecks, underwater ruins and cities). Microbial colonization, biofilm formation and damaging metabolite production eventually result in critical decay. This Special Issue aims at mirroring the broad thematic variety and important advances in biodeterioration research, featuring a series of both original and review articles. These not only spotlight the efforts in anti-microbial strategies, but also the implementation of microbial-based technologies for heritage conservation and restoration.
Issue cover
Cover: Reproduction of prehistoric cave paintings of "La Cueva de los Caballos" at the Barranco de Valltorta (Spain), which date to about 7000 BC. The paintings exemplify Levantine rock art and show a hunting scene, involving men with bows and deer. The cover depicts corresponding drawings by Hugo Obermaier (1877-1946) as published in "Las pinturas rupestres del Barranco de Valltorta (Castellón)", H. Obermaier and P. Wernert (1919), Comisión de Investigaciones Paleontológicas y Prehistóricas, Madrid, p. 107 (image retrieved from Wikipedia); image modified by MIC. The cover is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license. Enlarge issue cover

Research Articles

Dry biocleaning of artwork: an innovative methodology for Cultural Heritage recovery?

Giancarlo Ranalli, Pilar Bosch-Roig, Simone Crudele, Laura Rampazzi, Cristina Corti and Elisabetta Zanardini

2021 | 10.15698/mic2021.05.748 | Full text | PDF | Abstract

An innovative methodology is proposed, based on applied biotechnology to the recovery of altered stonework: the “dry biocleaning“, which envisages the use of dehydrated microbial cells without the use of free water or gel-based matrices. This methodology can be particularly useful for the recovery of highly-ornamented stoneworks, which cannot be treated using the conventional cleaning techniques. The experimental plan included initial laboratory tests on Carrara marble samples, inoculated with dehydrated Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast cells, followed by on-site tests performed on “Quattro Fontane” (The Four Fountains), a travertine monumental complex in Rome (Italy), on altered highly ornamented areas of about 1,000 cm2. The mechanism is based on the spontaneous re-hydration process due to the environmental humidity and on the metabolic fermentative activity of the yeast cells. Evaluation by physical-chemical analyses, after 18 hours of the biocleaning, confirmed a better removal of salts and pollutants, compared to both nebulization treatment and control tests (without cells). The new proposed on-site dry biocleaning technique, adopting viable yeast cells, represents a promising method that can be further investigated and optimized for recovering specific altered Cultural Heritage stoneworks.

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