A metagenomic analysis of the bacterial microbiome of limestone, and the role of associated biofilms in the biodeterioration of heritage stone surfaces

Skipper, Philip, Skipper, Lynda and Dixon, Ron (2022) A metagenomic analysis of the bacterial microbiome of limestone, and the role of associated biofilms in the biodeterioration of heritage stone surfaces. Scientific Reports, 12 (1). pp. 1-18. ISSN 2045-2322

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-08851-4

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A metagenomic analysis of the bacterial microbiome of limestone, and the role of associated biofilms in the biodeterioration of heritage stone surfaces
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Abstract

There is growing concern surrounding the aesthetic and physical effects of microbial biofilms on heritage buildings and monuments. Carboniferous stones, such as limestone and marble, are soluble in weak acid solutions and therefore particularly vulnerable to biocorrosion. This paper aims to determine the differences and commonalities between the microbiome of physically damaged and undamaged Lincolnshire limestone, an area of research which has not been previously studied. A lack of information about the core microbiome has resulted in conflicting claims in the literature regarding the biodeteriorative potential of many microorganisms. To address this, we used metagenomics alongside traditional microbiological techniques to produce an in-depth analysis of differences between the bacterial microbiomes found on deteriorated and undamaged external limestone surfaces. We demonstrate there is a core microbiome on Lincolnshire limestone present on both damaged and undamaged surfaces. In addition to the core microbiome, significant differences were found between species isolated from undamaged compared to damaged surfaces. Isolated species were characterised for biofilm formation and biodeteriorative processes, resulting in the association of species with biodeterioration that had not been previously described. Additionally, we have identified a previously undescribed method of biofilm-associated biomechanical damage. This research adds significant new understanding to the field, aiding decision making in conservation of stone surfaces.

Keywords:Biofilms, Microbiome, heritage conservation, metagenomics, stone monuments, stone decay
Subjects:K Architecture, Building and Planning > K250 Conservation of Buildings
C Biological Sciences > C440 Molecular Genetics
C Biological Sciences > C500 Microbiology
Divisions:College of Arts > School of History & Heritage > School of History & Heritage (Heritage)
ID Code:48742
Deposited On:29 Mar 2022 10:10

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