Community structures and biodeterioration processes of epilithic biofilms imply the significance of micro-environments

Shanshan Meng, Youfen Qian, Xiaobo Liu*, Yali Wang, Fasi Wu, Wanfu Wang, Ji-Dong Gu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Epilithic biofilms colonising outdoor stone monuments can intensify the deterioration processes of the stone materials and pose great challenges to their protection. In this study, biodiversity and community structures of the epilithic biofilms colonising the surfaces of five outdoor stone dog sculptures were characterised by high-throughput sequencing. Although they are exposed to the same envrionment in a small yard, the analysis of their biofilm populations revealed high biodiversity and species richness as well as great differences in community compostions. Interestingly, populations responsible for pigment production (e.g., Pseudomonas, Deinococcus, Sphingomonas and Leptolyngbya) and for nitrogen (e.g., Pseudomonas, Bacillus, and Beijerinckia) and sulfur cycling (e.g., Acidiphilium) were the core common taxa in the epilithic biofilms, suggesting the potential biodeterioration processes. Furthermore, significant positive corrolections of metal elements rich in stone with biofilm communities showed that epilithic biofilms could take in minerals of stone. Importantly, geochemical properties of soluble ions (higher concentration of SO42− than NO3−) and slightly acidic micro-environments on the surfaces suggest corrosion of biogenic sulfuric acids as a main mechanism of biodeterioration of the sculptures. Interestingly, relative abundacne of Acidiphilium showed a positive correlation with acidic micro-environments and SO42− concentrations, implying they could be an indicator of sulfuric acid corrosion. Together, our findings support that micro-environments are inportant to community assembly of epilithic biofilms and the biodeterioration processes involved.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StateE-pub ahead of print - 8 Mar 2023


Dive into the research topics of 'Community structures and biodeterioration processes of epilithic biofilms imply the significance of micro-environments'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this