Fungal colonization and penetration of mortar as a suitable simulant for concrete: implications for fungal biodeterioration in the built environment

Geoffrey Michael Gadd (Lead / Corresponding author), Louise McGregor

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    Abstract

    A range of fungal species showed variable abilities to colonize and penetrate a mortar substrate. Calcium biomineralization was a common feature with calcium-containing crystals deposited in the microenvironment or encrusting hyphae, regardless of the specific mortar composition. Several species caused significant damage to the mortar surface, exhibiting burrowing and penetration, surface etching, and biomineralization. In some cases, extensive biomineralization of hyphae, probably by carbonatization, resulted in the formation of crystalline tubes after hyphal degradation on mortar blocks, including those amended with Co or Sr carbonate. Ca was the only metal detected in the biomineralized formations with Co or Sr undetectable. Aspergillus niger, Stemphylium sp. and Paecilomyces sp. could penetrate mortar with differential responses depending on the porosity. Fluorescent staining of thin sections recorded penetration depths of ∼530 um for A. niger and ∼620 um for Stemphylium sp. Penetration depth varied inversely with porosity and greater penetration depths were achieved in mortar with a lower porosity (lower water/cement ratio). These results have provided further understanding of biodeteriorative fungal interactions with cementitious substrates that can clearly affect structural integrity. The potential significance of fungal colonization and such biodeteriorative phenomena should not be overlooked in built environment contexts, including radionuclide storage and surface decontamination.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1899-1906
    Number of pages8
    JournalFungal Biology
    Volume128
    Issue number5
    Early online date31 May 2024
    DOIs
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 May 2024

    Keywords

    • Fungi
    • Mortar
    • Concrete
    • Geomycology
    • Geomicrobiology
    • Biomineralization
    • Bioprecipitation

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