Microbiologist Giancarlo Ranalli of the University of Molise has developed a new strain of bacteria which will help restore frescoes, paintings and murals throughout Italy.
Restoration projects of the past have been difficult because of the special mixture of animal glues used by conservators to protect and reattach parts of frescoes. These glues become completely insoluble over time, therefore making future restoration projects impossible.
However, Ranalli says that this new non-pathogenic bacterium called Pseudomonas stutzeri can be ‘trained’ to feed on water and animal glue. When applied to the frescoes, the bacterium eats away at the glue but leaves the artwork completely unharmed.
A church in Valencia has already used this strain of bacteria in restoration projects. Restorers are also currently using this method in their work on Pisa’s cemetery, Camp Santo.