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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Conservation of ornamental stone by Myxococcus xanthus-induced carbonate biomineralization.

Increasing environmental pollution in urban areas has been endangering the survival of carbonate stones in monuments and statuary for many decades. Numerous conservation treatments have been applied for the protection and consolidation of these works of art. Most of them, however, either release dangerous gases during curing or show very little efficacy. Bacterially induced carbonate mineralization has been proposed as a novel and environmentally friendly strategy for the conservation of deteriorated ornamental stone. However, the method appeared to display insufficient consolidation and plugging of pores. Here we report that Myxococcus xanthus-induced calcium carbonate precipitation efficiently protects and consolidates porous ornamental limestone. The newly formed carbonate cements calcite grains by depositing on the walls of the pores without plugging them. Sonication tests demonstrate that these new carbonate crystals are strongly attached to the substratum, mostly due to epitaxial growth on preexisting calcite grains. The new crystals are more stress resistant than the calcite grains of the original stone because they are organic-inorganic composites. Variations in the phosphate concentrations of the culture medium lead to changes in local pH and bacterial productivity. These affect the structure of the new cement and the type of precipitated CaCO(3) polymorph (vaterite or calcite). The manipulation of culture medium composition creates new ways of controlling bacterial biomineralization that in the future could be applied to the conservation of ornamental stone.[1]


  1. Conservation of ornamental stone by Myxococcus xanthus-induced carbonate biomineralization. Rodriguez-Navarro, C., Rodriguez-Gallego, M., Ben Chekroun, K., Gonzalez-Muñoz, M.T. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. (2003) [Pubmed]
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