Biodeterioration of modern materials in contemporary collections: can biotechnology help?

Trends Biotechnol. 2006 Aug;24(8):350-4. doi: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2006.06.001. Epub 2006 Jun 16.


Contemporary collections frequently contain man-made materials. Although synthetic materials are considered more resistant to chemical, physical and biological damage than natural materials, they can also undergo rapid deterioration. In this Opinion article, we claim that biotechnology can help to identify biodeteriogens and prevent colonisation of polymeric surfaces through the application of biological products that reduce cell adhesion. We report the study of 'Futuro', made in 1965 by the Finnish architect Matti Suuronne. This ski-cabin, constructed of glassfibre-reinforced polyester, polyester-polyurethane, and poly(methylmethacrylate), was significantly degraded by conspicuous growth of microorganisms, identified as Cyanobacteria and Archaea using fluorescent in situ hybridisation. Ultimately, if biodeteriogens are able to adhere to the polymer surfaces, molecules with enzymatic activity can help to prevent the formation of biofilms--a main cause of deterioration--and aid the work of the conservator.

MeSH terms

  • Art*
  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Biofilms*
  • Biotechnology / methods*
  • Construction Materials / microbiology*
  • Environmental Microbiology*
  • Museums*
  • Polymers*


  • Polymers