3 Biotech

, 9:356 | Cite as

Molecular identification of fungi colonizing art objects in Thailand and their growth inhibition by local plant extracts

  • Witsanu Senbua
  • Jesdawan WichitwechkarnEmail author
Original Article


In this initial attempt to identify fungi predominantly colonizing art objects, mural paintings and a bas-relief, at 12 archaeological sites in the central and western parts of Thailand, 13 fungal isolates were identified using morphological technique and estimated for their prevalence frequency at each site. Five main genera of fungal community found were Aspergillus, Fusarium, Curvularia, Penicillium, and Neurospora. These fungi were further identified to species level by molecular method utilizing nucleotide sequence homology analysis of the conserved internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region. Environmental factors such as temperature, relative humidity, and the opening or closure of the temples did not have any influence upon the fungal type. From the area-based distribution, Aspergillus was found at all collection sites, while Fusarium was found in Bangkok, and Ratchaburi and Petchaburi provinces in the western part of the country. Curvularia was found mostly in Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya and Lopburi provinces, and in one temple in Petchaburi. From the phylogenetic relationship, these prevalent fungi were divided into three closely related groups: Aspergillus and Penicillium, Fusarium and Neurospora, and Curvularia. In addition, growth inhibition of the fungi by local plant extracts of betel leaves, custard apple leaves, mangosteen peel, and guava leaves at 10,000 ppm were investigated. Mangosteen peel extract gave the highest fungal growth inhibition for all the Curvularia tested, being 68.3%, 65.6%, and 60% for C. verruculosa, C. geniculata, and C. lunata, respectively. Guava leave extract also yielded highest growth inhibition of 64.4% for C. verruculosa. Both betel leave and custard apple leave extracts showed the highest inhibition towards A. fumigatus, at 65.1% and 61.8%, respectively. The results obtained here are basic information necessary for future applications in the biological prevention of art objects, and the design of appropriate measures for preventive conservation of Thai cultural heritage.


Art object Mural painting Biodeterioration Biological prevention Fungal identification Fungal growth inhibition 



This research was financially supported by Silpakorn University Fund for Research and Creative Work (Faculty of Engineering and Industrial Technology), Thailand. The authors would like to thank the research team for performing various parts of the work. We are especially grateful to Associate Professor Dr. Krisana Houngutain (Art Theory Department, Faculty of Painting Sculpture and Graphic Arts, Silpakorn University, Thailand), a collaborator in our collaborative academic social service project on Thai art preventive conservation, for her fruitful suggestions on Thai art history and culture. We also thank Assistant Professor Dr. Eakaphun Bangyeekhun and Assistant Professor Dr. Rujikan Nasanit for their helpful scientific advice, Miss Tipaporn Subsomboon and Miss Sumarin Sinma for their technical helps, and Mr. Nutthawut Pheungphasutadol for the manuscript artwork.

Author contributions

Witsanu Senbua carried out, as a Ph.D. student, the sample collection, the isolation and identification of the fungi, PCR, the phylogenetic analysis, and assisted the research team in determining the fungal growth inhibition activity by local plant extracts. Jesdawan Wichitwechkarn was in charge, as a principal investigator, of the administration, guidance, and supervision of the research, as well as the preparation of the manuscript. All authors have read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest in the publication.


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Copyright information

© King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biotechnology, Faculty of Engineering and Industrial TechnologySilpakorn UniversityNakhon PathomThailand

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