Lead soaps formation and biodiversity in a XVIII Century wax seal coloured with minium.Environ Microbiol 2019EM
A multidisciplinary approach was carried out in order to study the biodeterioration and the associated microbiome of a XVIII Century wax seal coloured with minium. A small wax seal fragment was observed by scanning electron microscopy combined with energy dispersive spectroscopy in non-destructive mode. The same object was analysed by Raman and Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy. The identification of the microbiota growing on the seal was performed with both a culture-dependent strategy, combined with hydrolytic assays, and high-throughput sequencing using the MinION platform. The whole bacterial 16S rRNA gene and the fungal markers ITS and 28S rRNA were targeted. It was observed that the carnauba wax coloured with lead tetroxide (minium) was covered by a biofilm consisting of a network of filaments and other structures of microbial origin. The culture-dependent and culture-independent investigations showed the presence of a complex microbiota composed mainly by fungal members, which demonstrated interesting properties related to lipids and lead processing. The formation of lead soaps and secondary biogenic minerals was also described.