Investigation of fungal deterioration of synthetic paint binders using vibrational spectroscopic techniques

Francesca Cappitelli, Silvia Vicini, Paolo Piaggio, Pamela Abbruscato, Elisabetta Princi, Arturo Casadevall, Joshua D. Nosanchuk, Elisabetta Zanardini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The deterioration of synthetic polymers caused by biological process is usually evaluated by visual inspection and measuring physical effects. In contrast to this approach, we have applied vibrational spectroscopies to study the biodegradation of the synthetic resins. 29 synthetic resins used as paint binding media, including acrylic, alkyd and poly(vinyl acetate) polymers, were examined for potential susceptibility to fungal degradation using the standard method ASTM 021-96(2002). In addition, the degraded resins were analysed by Raman spectroscopy, FT-IR and FT-IR photoacoustic spectroscopy. Almost all the acrylic resins studied proved to be resistant to microbial attack, while all alkyd resins and some poly(vinyl acetates) turned out to be biodegradable. Within a few days of inoculation Aspergillus niger was the most copious fungus on the biodegraded resins. A comparison of the IR and Raman spectra of control and biodegraded resins did not show any differences, but photoacoustic spectroscopy revealed additional bands for the fungal-degraded resins, consistent with the presence of fungal-derived substances. The additional bands in the photoacoustic spectra were clue to the presence of Aspergillus niger and melanin, a fungal pigment. Since IR photoacoustic spectroscopy can be also a suitable technique for the chemical characterisation of binding media, the same spectroscopic analysis can be employed to both characterise the material and obtain evidence for fungal colonization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-57
Number of pages9
JournalMacromolecular Bioscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 14 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Biodeterioration of synthetic resins
  • Infrared spectroscopy
  • Melanin
  • Photoacoustic infrared spectroscopy
  • Raman spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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