“Bacteria War” can save oil painting
Just like our bodies, there are microorganisms on oil paintings. Oil paintings are easy to fade after long storage time. Part of the reason is that the pigments are degraded by microorganisms, but these microorganisms have been rarely studied so far.
In order to learn more about these oil painting-based species, Elizabeth Caselli of the University of Ferrara in Italy sampled and analyzed an oil painting created in 1620.
She found several strains of Staphylococcus and Bacillus, as well as some linear fungi from the genera Aspergillus, Penicillium, Cladosporium, and Alternaria. In addition, she also identified pigments that may be used as food for these microorganisms.
Caseli is a clinical microbiologist. She has spent years looking for ways to eliminate harmful microorganisms in hospitals. She had previously discovered that detergents containing harmless bacillus spores can remove pathogens in the hospital. This is the real “germ warfare”-fighting bacteria with bacteria. This time she also tried to use the same method to deal with the microorganisms on the oil painting.
She first extracted the parasitic bacteria and fungi from the oil painting, and then sprayed them with detergent containing Bacillus spores. She was pleasantly surprised to find that the growth of these microorganisms was almost completely inhibited.
It seems that the “germ warfare” can also save valuable artworks.