Significant percent of world cultural heritage artifacts is threatened by fungal infestation. Fungi can deteriorate different substrates via various physical and chemical mechanisms. Hyphal growth and penetration into the substrate can cause symptoms like discoloration, biopitting, cracking, exfoliation and patina formation. On the other hand, chemical mechanisms include acid secretion, release of extracellular enzymes, pigment production, oxidation/reduction reactions and secondary mycogenic minerals formation. These processes can lead to serious, both esthetic and structural, alterations which may be irreversible and could permanently impair artworks. Proper isolation and identification of autochthonous isolates, as well as employment of different microscopic techniques and in vitro biodegradation tests are pivotal in understanding complex biodeterioration mechanisms caused by microorganisms, including fungal deteriogens. Biodeterioration and biodegradation studies require multidisciplinary approach and close collaboration of microbiologists, chemists, geologists and different personnel responsible for the safeguarding of cultural heritage monuments and artifacts, especially restorers and conservators.
Part of the book: Biodegradation Technology of Organic and Inorganic Pollutants