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Biodeterioration plays an important role in the degradation of stone in historic buildings, monuments, and archeological sites.  Microbial deterioration occurs through the action of organic and inorganic acids produced by biofilms.

Detection of microbial deterioration of culturally important stone objects is difficult.

The use of microbiological indicators of environmental conditions is common (e.g., E. coli is a key indicator of fecal contamination of water).  The objective of this project was to compare the microbial community on deteriorated and undeteriorated stone.

Kristen Bearce Lee plating samples from deteriorated stone onto agar plates.

The microbial community of both deteriorated and undeteriorated locations was dominated by Cyanobacteria.  In undeteriorated locations the dominant organism was Anabaena cylindrica.  In deteriorated locations, the dominant organism was Chroococcidiopsis sp.

Differences between the communities suggest that microbial indicators could provide a simple and rapid means for early detection of stone biodeterioration.

This research was made possible through Grant MT-2210-06-NC-02 from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT).

National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
645 University Parkway
Natchitoches, LA 71457

Email: ncptt[at]
Phone: (318) 356-7444
Fax: (318) 356-9119