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Modern methods for the monitoring of microbial risk in archives and museums




Key words:

cultural heritage, biodeterioration, MVOC’s, GC-MS, PCR-DGGE.

The environment of rooms where archival and historical objects are stored has to be monitored permanently for microbiological risk assessment reasons. Microclimate parameters in store rooms as well as in exhibition rooms have to be maintained at required levels. They expected values depend on type of material that is stored in examined place. The most important parameter of microclimate seems to be relative humidity (RH). When it values is to low it can cause irreversible changes in some materials: desiccation leading to breaks and other physical changes in structure. At high RH many species of microorganisms can develop on historical objects and cause their deterioration. The risk of potential microorganisms’ growth on historical object is mostly assessed with classical microbial methods, i.e. incubation on broths, or indirectly by observations of visible changes on the surface of objects. These alterations are a consequence of biodeterioration.
Nowadays other methods are examined as a tool for fast, noninvasive and precise detection of microorganisms. These are mostly culture-independent techniques. One of them, which becomes increasingly popular, is isolation of DNA from microorganisms present in indoor air or on the surface of historical objects. Afterward DNA is analyzed with PCR-DGGE technique and as a result a taxonomical biodiversity of microorganisms, which were detected in museum environment, is defined. Other method of microorganisms’ detection is based on investigation of secondary metabolites that are characteristic for defined group of microorganisms, and production of these compounds is an indication of deteriorative activity of microorganisms. Some of these metabolites are volatile and they can be analyzed with GC-MS method. They are called Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds (MVOCs). This article contains a detail description of application of GC-MS method for analysis of MVOCs emitted by selected moulds growing on model historical materials.

Cracow University of Economics
Faculty of Commodity Science
Department of Microbiology
ul. Rakowicka 27, 31-510 Krakow, Poland
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