Investigation of fungal deterioration of synthetic paint binders using vibrational spectroscopic techniques

Macromol Biosci. 2005 Jan 14;5(1):49-57. doi: 10.1002/mabi.200400134.


The deterioration of synthetic polymers caused by biological process is usually evaluated by visual inspection and measuring physical effects. In contrast to this approach, we have applied vibrational spectroscopies to study the biodegradation of the synthetic resins. 29 synthetic resins used as paint binding media, including acrylic, alkyd and poly(vinyl acetate) polymers, were examined for potential susceptibility to fungal degradation using the standard method ASTM G21-96(2002). In addition, the degraded resins were analysed by Raman spectroscopy, FT-IR and FT-IR photoacoustic spectroscopy. Almost all the acrylic resins studied proved to be resistant to microbial attack, while all alkyd resins and some poly(vinyl acetates) turned out to be biodegradable. Within a few days of inoculation Aspergillus niger was the most copious fungus on the biodegraded resins. A comparison of the IR and Raman spectra of control and biodegraded resins did not show any differences, but photoacoustic spectroscopy revealed additional bands for the fungal-degraded resins, consistent with the presence of fungal-derived substances. The additional bands in the photoacoustic spectra were due to the presence of Aspergillus niger and melanin, a fungal pigment. Since IR photoacoustic spectroscopy can be also a suitable technique for the chemical characterisation of binding media, the same spectroscopic analysis can be employed to both characterise the material and obtain evidence for fungal colonization. Microbial growth on Sobral 1241ML (alkyd resin) after 28 d (growth rating 4) compared with the non-inoculated resin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustics
  • Acrylic Resins / chemistry
  • Aspergillus niger / metabolism
  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Biotechnology
  • Cryptococcus neoformans / metabolism
  • Light
  • Melanins / chemistry
  • Paint
  • Pigments, Biological
  • Polymers / chemistry*
  • Polyvinyls / chemistry
  • Spectrophotometry
  • Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared
  • Spectrum Analysis, Raman


  • Acrylic Resins
  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Melanins
  • Pigments, Biological
  • Polymers
  • Polyvinyls
  • polyvinyl acetate