A germ that heals

Published: Thursday 31 July 2003

Restoration of St Efisio (Credit: Claudia Sorlini)It seems that bacteria, one strain at least, can work wonders for art. Scientists at Milan University in Italy claim to have used the bacterium Pseudomonas stutzeri to restore a 14th century Italian fresco. The painting, Conversion of St Efisio by Spinello Aretino, which was once part of a 14th and 15th century fresco cycle in the interior wall of the Camposanto cemetery in Pisa, was covered with a thick layer of glue following a shoddy restoration attempt in the 1950s. The bacteria degraded the organic compounds present in the adhesive, making the figures visible once again.

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