Halophilic microbial communities in deteriorated buildings


Justyna Adamiak, Anna Otlewska, Beata Gutarowska
World J Microbiol Biotechnol (2015) 31:1489–1499


Halophilic microorganisms were traditionally isolated from an aquatic environment. There has been little research conducted into halophiles inhabiting the terrestrial environment in which historic monuments deteriorate. Salt efflorescence deposited on the walls is an observed phenomenon on the surface of historic buildings, and would favour the growth of halophiles. However, some conditions have to be fulfilled in order for efflorescence to occur: (1) the presence of salts, (2) porosity, (3) a source of water. Salt crystallization influences the material structure (cracking, detachment, material loss), but active growth of halophilic microorganisms may be a serious threat to historic materials as well, leading to aesthetical changes such as coloured biofilms, orange to pink or even violet stains. This is why it is important to investigate halophilic microorganisms, taking into consideration both the environmental conditions they need to grow in, material characteristics they inhabit, the mechanisms they possess to cope with osmotic stress, and the methods that should be applied for their identification.