Project

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MAIA

English title Microbes for Archaeological Iron Artworks
Applicant Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse
Number 142514
Funding scheme Ambizione
Research institution Laboratoire de Microbiologie Institut de Biologie Université de Neuchâtel
Institution of higher education University of Neuchatel - NE
Main discipline Inorganic Chemistry
Start/End 01.01.2013 - 30.06.2016
Approved amount 489'035.00
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All Disciplines (3)

Discipline
Inorganic Chemistry
Archaeology
Experimental Microbiology

Keywords (6)

conservation science; applied microbiology; archaeological iron; applied chemistry; corrosion; desalination

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
In the field of metal conservation, the preservation of archaeological iron artefacts encounters severe problems after excavation when different salts containing chloride ions contaminate the corrosion crust surrounding the object. As a result of electrochemical processes, chemical reactions with pollutants and physical phenomenon of deposit accumulation, irreversible changes in the original appearance and structure can be observed on the objects.
Lay summary

Content and research work objectives

Here is proposed MAIA (Microbes for Archaeological Iron Artworks), an innovative alternative treatment where the stabilization after excavation of archaeological iron artefacts can be provided by naturally occurring microorganisms. In this project, i) a synergetic microbial consortium will be specially designed for the formation of stable iron compounds, such as iron oxalates or magnetite, and the simultaneously removal of chloride ions that are the instigators of corrosion after excavation; ii) The newly formed iron compounds (oxalates and magnetite) will be carefully investigated over iron solid phases and their properties defined in order to optimize the application procedure. A careful assessment of the methodology will be carried out before iii) real samples are integrated in order to validate the new conservation method elaborated.

Scientific and social context of the research project

A significant contribution will be given to the iron conservation issue. A study under a completely new point of view will be established exploiting some specific capacities of microbes: a real progress is expected in terms of durability, effectiveness and toxicity. Dealing with chemistry of microorganisms, this project will open new trends in the development of methods and materials for conservation. In the future, the novel treatment could be exploited as an easy-to-use application kit, which could be directly employed by conservator-restorers or during archaeological excavations.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 06.02.2014

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Bacterial iron reduction and biogenic mineral formation for the stabilisation of corroded iron objects
Kooli Wafa M., Comensoli Lucrezia, Maillard Julien, Albini Monica, Gelb Arnaud, Junier Pilar, Joseph Edith (2018), Bacterial iron reduction and biogenic mineral formation for the stabilisation of corroded iron objects, in Scientific Reports, 8(1), 764-764.
Soluble and Solid Iron Reduction Assays with Desulfitobacterium hafniense
Comensoli Lucrezia, Maillard Julien, Kooli Wafa, Junier Pilar, Joseph Edith (2018), Soluble and Solid Iron Reduction Assays with Desulfitobacterium hafniense, in BIO-PROTOCOL, 8(17), 1.
Iron and Fungal Physiology: A Review of Biotechnological Opportunities.
Comensoli L, Bindschedler S, Junier P, Joseph E (2017), Iron and Fungal Physiology: A Review of Biotechnological Opportunities., in Advances in applied microbiology, 98, 31-60.
Microbial biotechnology approaches to mitigating the deterioration of construction and heritage materials
Junier Pilar, Joseph Edith (2017), Microbial biotechnology approaches to mitigating the deterioration of construction and heritage materials, in Microbial Biotechnology, (5), 1145-1148.
Use of Bacteria To Stabilize Archaeological Iron.
Comensoli Lucrezia, Maillard Julien, Albini Monica, Sandoz Frederic, Junier Pilar, Joseph Edith (2017), Use of Bacteria To Stabilize Archaeological Iron., in Applied and environmental microbiology, (9), e03478-16.
Microorganisms for safeguarding built heritage
Joseph Edith, Bindschedler Saskia, Albini Monica, Comensoli Lucrezia, Kooli Wafa, Mathys Lidia (2017), Microorganisms for safeguarding built heritage, in Dighton John (ed.), CRC press Taylor and Francis group, Boca Raton, 509-518.
Innovative biological approaches for metal conservation
Albini M., Comensoli L., Brambilla L., Domon Beuret E., Kooli W., Mathys L., Letardi P., Joseph E. (2016), Innovative biological approaches for metal conservation, in Materials and Corrosion, 67(2), 200-206.
Innovative biological approaches for metal conservation
Joseph edith, Letardi Paola, Albini Monica, Comensoli Lucrezia, Kooli Wafa, Mathys Lidia, Domon Beuret Emmanuelle, Brambilla Laura, Cevey Christian, Bertholon Regis, Job Daniel, Junier Pilar (2014), Innovative biological approaches for metal conservation, in DECHEMA e.V. Frankfurt (ed.), DECHEMA e.V., Pisa, 1-10.
Microorganims pro- and against cultural heritage
Joseph Edith (topic editor), Job Daniel (topic editor), Junier Pilar (topic editor) (2014), Microorganims pro- and against cultural heritage, Frontiers, Research topic.
MAIA: Microbes for Archaeological Iron Artefacts
Joseph Edith, Job Daniel, Junier Pilar, Wörle Marie (2013), MAIA: Microbes for Archaeological Iron Artefacts, in BROMEC-Bulletin of research on metal conservation, 34, 5.
Microorganisms for safeguarding cultural heritage.
Albini Monica, Comensoli Lucrezia, Kooli Wafa, Junier Pilar, Joseph Edith, Microorganisms for safeguarding cultural heritage., in International Journal of Conservation Science.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Collections Centre/Swiss National Museum Switzerland (Europe)
- Research Infrastructure
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
Archaeology park and museum Laténium Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
Archaeological service of canton of Bern Switzerland (Europe)
- Research Infrastructure
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
Laboratory for environmental biotechnology, EPFL Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Zürich Mycology symposium 2017 Talk given at a conference The role of fungi in the geochemical cycle of iron 27.01.2017 Zürich, Switzerland Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
Journées des restaurateurs en archéologie 2016 Talk given at a conference Microbes for archaeological iron artefacts 13.10.2016 Toulouse, France Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
16th International Symposium on Microbial Ecology Poster The role of fungi in the geochemical cycle of iron 21.08.2016 Montreal, Canada Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
Applicants workshop for Marie Curie individual fellowships 2016 Talk given at a conference Marie Curie experience: Intra European Fellowship 23.06.2016 Neuchâtel, Switzerland Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
74th Annual Meeting of the Swiss Society for Microbiology Talk given at a conference Bacterial iron reduction properties for healing corroded iron artefacts 13.06.2016 Bern, Switzerland Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
74th Annual Meeting of the Swiss Society for Microbiology Poster Fungi to the rescue of archaeological iron 13.06.2016 Bern, Switzerland Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
SCNAT Young Faculty Meeting 2016 Individual talk Microorganisms as mini chemical factories for the preservation of cultural heritage 08.06.2016 Bern, Switzerland Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
73th Annual Meeting of the Swiss Society for Microbiology Poster Can bacteria and fungi be used to preserve archaeological iron objects? 28.05.2016 Lugano, Switzerland Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
Zürich Mycology Symposium 2016 Talk given at a conference The art of survival to the rescue of artworks 27.01.2016 Zürich, Switzerland Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
Swiss annual meeting of corrosion research, challenges, opportunities and applications Talk given at a conference Biological alternative for the stabilization of copper corrosion layers 27.11.2015 Lausanne, Switzerland Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
6th Meeting of Studies, Research and Innovation JERI 2015 Individual talk Biopatines: des champignons au service des alliages cuivreux 20.11.2015 Toulouse, France Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
Green conservation of cultural heritage international workshop Talk given at a conference Evaluation of bacterial biomineralization properties for the removal of chloride species and stabilization of iron artefacts 27.10.2015 Rome, Italy Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
Green conservation of cultural heritage international workshop Talk given at a conference Can bacteria and fungi be used to preserve archaeological iron objects? 27.10.2015 Rome, Italy Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
Journées des Restaurateurs en Archéologie 2015 Talk given at a conference Comparison between biologically-induced copper oxalates and benzotriazole for the stabilization of copper chlorides 08.10.2015 Nantes, France Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
SME: 6th Swiss Microbial Ecology Meeting Poster Evaluation of biomineralization properties of bacteria for the removal of chloride species and stabilization of iron artefacts. 10.09.2015 Ascona, Switzerland Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
SME: 6th Swiss Microbial Ecology Meeting Talk given at a conference Can microbes be used to preserve archaeological iron objects? 10.09.2015 Ascona, Switzerland Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
31° convegno scienza e beni culturali Talk given at a conference Biologically induced patina for metal built heritage 30.06.2015 Bressanone, Italy Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
FEMS: 6th Congress of European Microbiologist Talk given at a conference Can we exploit bacteria and fungi to preserve archaeological iron objects? 07.06.2015 Maastricht, Netherlands Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
73th Annual Meeting of the Swiss Society for Microbiology Poster Evaluation of biomineralization properties of bacteria for the removal of chloride species and stabilization of iron artefacts 28.05.2015 Lugano, Switzerland Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
73rd Annual Meeting of the Swiss Society for Microbiology Talk given at a conference Microorganisms for safeguarding built heritage 28.05.2015 Lugano, Switzerland Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
CNR-ISMAR seminar Individual talk BIOPATINAS : innovative biological patinas for copper based artefacts 11.12.2014 Genoa, Italy Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
Open Air Metal, Outdoor Metallic Sculpture from the XIXth to the Beginning of the XXth Century: Identification, Conservation, Restoration Talk given at a conference BIOPATINAS: Innovative biological patinas for copper-based artefacts 04.12.2014 Paris, France Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
Biomineralization short course Poster Evaluation of biomineralization properties of bacteria for the removal of chloride species and stabilization of iron artefacts 01.12.2014 Paris, France Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
JOURNEES DES RESTAURATEURS EN ARCHEOLOGIE 2014 « restaurer l’ordinaire, exposer l’extraordinaire : du site au musée » Talk given at a conference Biopatines: des champignons au service des alliages cuivreux 16.10.2014 Arles, France Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
5th International Course in Microbial Ecology Individual talk Evaluation of biomineralization properties of bacteria for the removal of chloride species and stabilization of iron artefacts 06.10.2014 Venice, Italy Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
EUROCORR 2014, European Corrosion Congress Talk given at a conference Innovative biological approaches for metal conservation 08.09.2014 Pisa, Italy Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
ISME 15th International Symposium on Microbial Ecology Poster Biotechnology and metal protection 24.08.2014 Seoul, Korean Republic (South Korea) Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
IMC10: The 10th International Mycological Congress Talk given at a conference Innovative biotechnological approaches for metal protection 03.08.2014 Bangkok, Thailand Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
72nd Annual Meeting of the Swiss Society for Microbiology Poster Evaluation of biomineralization properties of bacteria for the removal of chloride species and stabilization of iron artefacts 19.06.2014 Fribourg, Switzerland Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
Swiss Annual Conservation Science Meeting Individual talk Microbes: New perspectives in conservation 15.05.2014 SIK-ISEA, Zürich, Switzerland Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
Annual Ph.D. students meeting 2014 - Ethics in Science Poster Can we exploit bacteria to preserve archaeological iron objects? 08.05.2014 Neuchatel, Switzerland Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
Annual Ph.D. students meeting 2014 - Ethics in Science Poster Evaluation of biomineralization properties of bacteria for the removal of chloride species and stabilization of iron artefacts 08.05.2014 Neuchatel, Switzerland Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
Symposium Use of microbes in the conservation and restoration of art objects Individual talk Biological approaches for metal conservation 20.01.2014 Neuchatel, Switzerland Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
Journée de la biologie de l'Université de Neuchâtel Talk given at a conference Microbes-heritage interactions 14.11.2013 Neuchâtel, Switzerland Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
Swiss Inter- and Transdisciplinarity Day 2013 Poster MAIA: Microbes for Archaeological Iron Artefacts 21.10.2013 Bern, Switzerland Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
Metal 2013, Interim Meeting of the ICOM-CC Metal Working Group Talk given at a conference Assessment of a biological approach for the proection of copper alloys artefacts 16.09.2013 Edinburgh, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
Applicants workshop for Marie Curie individual fellowships 2013 Individual talk Marie Curie experience:Intra European Fellowship 04.06.2013 Neuchâtel, Switzerland Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
Workshop Nouvelles stratégies de conservation du patrimoine métallique Talk given at a conference Biological treatment for the conservation of copper-based alloys 11.04.2013 Paris, France Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
Annual congress SKR/SCR - To coat or not to coat – Protective coatings : history, theory and practice Individual talk Biopatinas for copper-based artefacts 14.02.2013 Lugano, Switzerland Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
5th Swiss Microbial Ecology Meeting Talk given at a conference The use of microbes for the conservation-restoration of metal artefacts 04.02.2013 Murten, Switzerland Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
6th COSCH working group meeting COST action TD120 13.10.2015 Neuchâtel, Switzerland
Swiss annual conservation science meeting 18.06.2015 Neuchâtel, Switzerland

Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Researchers day - Haute Ecole ARC & Université de Neuchâtel Talk 06.05.2014 Neuchatel, Switzerland Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
meeting with Légende d'Automne Talk 20.02.2014 Neuchatel, Switzerland Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
meeting with the Culture Service, Canton of Neuchatel Talk 14.02.2014 Neuchatel, Switzerland Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
meeting with Atelier Violet Talk 14.08.2013 Neuchatel, Switzerland Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
meeting with the compagny Amonit and the Laboratory of research of historic monuments (LRMH) Talk 28.06.2013 Paris, France Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;
Annual congress SCR/SKR 2013 To coat or not to coat – Protective coatings: history, theory and practice Talk 14.02.2013 Lugano, Switzerland Joseph Edith Michelle Maryse;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
BSc biologie, apprentissage par problème 60h: Utilisation des bactéries pour la protection d’objets archéologiques en fer 02.02.2015 Neuchâtel, Switzerland

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Talks/events/exhibitions Des champignons à la rescousse Western Switzerland 2018
Media relations: print media, online media Metal art, microbial culture ASBMBToday International 2018
Media relations: print media, online media Quand la technique se mèle d'art en direct International 2018
Media relations: print media, online media Archéologie : des bactéries contre la rouille Communiqués de presse, Université de neuchâtel International Western Switzerland 2017
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) bacteriofiles 313 - COLONIES CORRECT CHLORIDE CORROSION ASM.org International 2017
Media relations: radio, television Des bactéries contre la rouille RTS la 1ère International Western Switzerland 2017
Media relations: radio, television DES BACTÉRIES CONTRE LA ROUILLE RTS Western Switzerland 2017
Other activities Des microbes protecteurs de métaux Western Switzerland 2017
Media relations: radio, television Neuchâtel: des bactéries pour protéger des vestiges de la rouille ATS International Italian-speaking Switzerland Western Switzerland German-speaking Switzerland Rhaeto-Romanic Switzerland 2017
Talks/events/exhibitions FestiSciences 2016 Université de Neuchâtel Western Switzerland 2016
Talks/events/exhibitions Des microbes au service du patrimoine culturel Western Switzerland 2015

Awards

Title Year
Nominated as expert on AcademiaNet – Expert Database for Outstanding Female Academics 2016
Expertise - JOINT RESEARCH PROJECT FRANCE - SWITZERLAND PHC Germaine de Staël 2016 / 2017 2015
Reviewer for Annals of Microbiology http://www.springer.com/life+sciences/microbiology/journal/13213 2014
Topic editor of a Frontiers research topic MICROORGANISMS PRO- AND AGAINST CULTURAL HERITAGE Deadline for abstract submission: 01 Dec 2013 Deadline for full article submission: 01 Mar 2014 Frontiers | Microbiology Research Topics www.frontiersin.org | twitter.com/FrontiersIn EPFL - Innovation Square, building I Lausanne, Switzerland | T +41(0)21 510 17 11 2013

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
188755 HELIX 01.02.2020 Project funding
163653 MICMAC 01.08.2016 SNSF Professorships

Abstract

Archaeological iron artefacts encounter serious post-excavation problems when contaminated with salts. In fact, once excavated, the exposure to a higher oxygen concentration and lower relative humidity renders the corrosion crust formed during burial not longer stable. In particular, the process is induced by chloride ions, present as an acidic ferric chloride solution, and leads to the formation of iron oxyhydroxides FeO(OH), specially akaganéite. Results of this ongoing corrosion can then been observed as flakes, cracks and finally loose of shape on the object. So far, the treatment adopted for the stabilization of archaeological iron artefacts is the use of alkaline immersion baths. This method is based on the slow diffusion of the chloride ions from the objects to the alkaline solution. The solution has to be changed regularly when the chloride ions concentration stops increasing. The treatment is then stopped after about 3 months when the chloride ions concentration is lower than 20 ppm in the solution. This approach is extremely labor- and time-consuming and large quantities of solution need to be neutralized and processed afterwards. Moreover, there is no evidence that chloride ions are not remaining in the object, as only the chloride ions in solution are measured. Therefore, the aim of this project is to develop and evaluate novel conservation methods, which could be more effectives than the desalination treatments currently used. In order to allow a better extraction of the chloride ions, we should consider two aspects during the treatment: to stop the corrosion, for example by removing oxygen or using alkaline pH, and to increase the porosity of the corrosion crust with the formation of low molar volume compounds.We propose here to exploit the unique properties of some microorganisms for the stabilization of archeological iron. To this purpose, three different strategies will be adopted either leading to the formation of stable compounds of low molar volume or using chloride-translocation properties. First, we will test some species of fungi that have been reported for their ability to transform metal compounds into metal oxalates, known to be chemically stable compounds of low molar volume. We already obtained promising results with the precipitation of iron oxalates by Beauveria bassiana. We observed also that this strain is able to grow in alkaline conditions that permit the passivation of the iron surface during treatment. However, many aspects of the possible application still need to be carefully studied. Therefore, we will carry on our investigation in order to better understand the mechanisms involved into the precipitation of iron oxalates and also optimize the application procedure on corroded iron standards. The same approach will be exploited to precipitate magnetite, another very stable compound of low molar volume. We propose here to evaluate B. bassiana and other microorganisms that have been reported in the literature for the biosynthesis of magnetite nanoparticles. In particular, we would like to explore the possibilities offered by the fungal strains Fusarium oxysporum or Verticillium sp. but also extend the study to iron-reducing and magnetotactic bacteria, which also form magnetite under anaerobic and neutral conditions. Instead of use pH > 9 to stop corrosion, these bacteria will allow us to work at neutral pH without corroding the object as oxygen will no longer be present. Finally, in order to enhance the removal of chloride ions outer the iron object, we propose to test the possible translocation of the chloride ions by fungi. In particularly chlorine-rich environments, some species of fungi develop strategies for detoxify their surrounding environment from the toxic chlorine. These halophiles can be isolated and cultured for example from natural places such as salt lakes. In addition, white-rot fungi are also studied in bioremediation for allowing chlorine migration. Based on the results achieved, we could contribute to the development of a synergetic microbial consortium specially designed for the removal of chloride ions and the simultaneously formation of stable iron compounds. Particular attention will be devoted to the efficiency and impact on metallographic structure of the proposed treatment to overcome the problems associated with the treatments in use nowadays. Real samples will be also included in the studies in order to validate the new methodology. This research issue presents innovative aspects in biogeochemistry of micro-organisms and conservation science. A key point for its successful achievement is the creation of an interdisciplinary research partnership, which brings together experts from the fields of chemistry, microbiology and metal conservation.
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