Community structures of bacteria and archaea associated with the biodeterioration of sandstone sculptures at the Beishiku Temple

Fasi Wu, Yong Zhang, Dongpeng He, Ji Dong Gu, Qinglin Guo, Xiaobo Liu, Yulong Duan, Jianhua Zhao, Wanfu Wang, Huyuan Feng*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The Beishiku (North Grottoes) Temple is suffering from serious weathering erosion as well as biological attacks. In this study, the total genomic DNA of 72 samples was extracted to elucidate the communities and distribution of both bacteria and archaea in biodeteriorated and weathered sandstone materials using a high-throughput sequencing analysis. As a result, the predominant bacterial communities belonged to the genera Deinococcus, Thermus, Pseudomonas, Rubrobacter, and Chroococcidiopsis. Interestingly, archaea (particularly the Candidatus Nitrocosmicus genus) with a putative ammonia-oxidizing function were dominant in the biodeteriorated samples where halophilic archaeal groups (particularly Halalkalicoccus and Halococcus genera) were also enriched. Moreover, the CCA showed that the distribution of microbial communities was mainly driven by the sunlight intensity, moisture, soluble salts and pH. In addition, a co-occurrence network analysis indicated that a more complex and stable community structure existed in the outside surface samples. The ecological functions of these community members were mainly predicted to be associated with chemoheterotrophy, phototrophy and aerobic ammonia oxidation, which maintained the common survival of biodeteriogens on stone heritage. Our findings unveil the distribution patterns of bacteria and archaea on sandstone sculptures in the subhumid climate, highlight the key factors affecting these patterns, and thus provide a reference basis for mitigation management and policies to prevent biodeterioration and protect such cultural heritages.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105290
JournalInternational Biodeterioration and Biodegradation
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Archaeal and bacterial communities
  • Biodeterioration
  • Community composition and function
  • Environmental factors
  • Sandstone monuments


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