Fungal hydrophobins render stones impermeable for water but keep them permeable for vapor

Sci Rep. 2019 Apr 18;9(1):6264. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-42705-w.


The conservation of architectural heritage is a big challenge in times with increasing air pollution with aggressive gases. A second major threat to buildings is the combination of water and air contaminants which may be used by microorganisms for their metabolism. Hence, myriads of different bacteria and fungi populate stone surfaces and penetrate into the fine pores and cracks. Whereas epoxid-based paintings (or other paintings) may protect the coated surfaces from water and aggressive gases, these chemicals seal the stone surface and prevent also the evaporation of vapor from the inside of the buildings. Here, we tested a natural, fungal protein-based coating method. Fungi use small, amphiphilic proteins to turn their surfaces hydrophobic. We found that Aspergillus nidulans hydrophobin DewA and Trichoderma reesei HFBI confer hydrophobicity to stones but keep their pores open. The effect resembles "Gore-tex" fabric material.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aspergillus nidulans / chemistry
  • Calcium Carbonate / chemistry*
  • Fungal Proteins / chemistry*
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Permeability
  • Steam
  • Surface Properties
  • Trichoderma / chemistry
  • Water / chemistry*


  • DEWA protein, Asperigillus nidulans
  • Fungal Proteins
  • Steam
  • Water
  • Calcium Carbonate