The Role of Microorganisms in Removal of Sulfates from Artistic Stonework

  • Prem Chandra
  • Enespa
  • Rajesh Kumar
  • Jameel Ahmad


The presence of organic matter on artistic stonework can be credited to inadequate historical renovations, lysis of microbial cells, primary surface colonization, and manifestation of hydrocarbons from oil combustion. The conservation of the artwork itself can be seriously dangerous. To date, surfactants and solubilizing agents have been used to remove pollutants and residual substances from artwork by chemical and physical procedures. For biological removal of sulfates, nitrates, and organic matter present on artistic stonework, multiple bioremediation systems have now been developed, exploiting prudently selected microbial cultures grown on an appropriate support. The development of this process involves screening and selection of a suitable microbial culture with the capability to biodegrade organic matter, denitrify, and reduce sulfates; setting up of simulated laboratory tests with stone samples artificially enriched with nitrates, sulfates, and organic matter; testing of appropriate inert matrices on which to immobilize the selected bacterial strains; and testing of sulfate, nitrate, and organic matter removal from artificially enriched stone, as well as from naturally degraded artwork. Bacterial biofilms using sepiolite with a high active biomass per cm3 were developed. Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Pseudomonas stutzeri were selected for nitrate removal because of their high denitrifying activity. Desulfovibrio vulgaris and Desulfovibrio desulfuricans were selected and tested for sulfate removal in liquid cultures, on stone specimens artificially enriched with sulfates, and on real marble samples. The results confirmed the potential for development of bioremediation as a soft, innovative technology based on the use of microorganisms and their metabolic activity in recovery of degraded artworks.


Bioremediation of artworks Desulfovibrio vulgaris Desulfovibrio desulfuricans Nitrates Sulfates Organic matter 



The authors are greatful to Prof. Jameel Ahmad, Principal, Gandhi Faiz-E-Aam College, Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh for their suggestion and constant encouragement.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Prem Chandra
    • 1
  • Enespa
    • 2
  • Rajesh Kumar
    • 3
  • Jameel Ahmad
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Environmental MicrobiologyBabasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University (A Central University)LucknowIndia
  2. 2.Department of Plant Pathology, School of Agriculture, Sri Mahesh Prasad Degree CollegeUniversity of LucknowLucknowIndia
  3. 3.Department of Zoology, Gandhi Faizam CollegeMahatama Jyotiba Phule Rohilkhand UniversityBareillyIndia

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