Like other hypogeal environments, the Roman Houses of the Caelian Hill are prone to unwanted biological growth. Wide conservative interventions have been carried out at the beginning of this millenium to reduce biodeterioration and physical-chemical damages. Retracing the last monitoring work, we assessed the site's current state of conservation and biodeterioration intending to check the previous treatments' effectiveness and deepen the common knowledge of the subterranean biota and their possible biodeteriogenic effects. Starting from the past test areas and the previous identifications of the occurring biodeteriogens, we further isolated and identified the main eubacterial, fungal, and phototrophic settlers, focusing on some detrimental traits for wall paintings (i.e., acid production and carbonate precipitation). The achieved results proved the success of the performed interventions in reducing the wall's water content. Otherwise, the new conditions raise, in the long term, new concerns about lampenflora, carbonate precipitations, and salt efflorescence. Here, the Caelian Houses' new status is documented. The possible favouring conditions for the different groups of biodeteriogens, along with the taxonomical novelties, additional risks tied to the anthropization of the resident culturable microbial community, and the possible relation between the black fungus Cyphellophora olivacea and roots, are reported and discussed.
Isola, D., Bartoli, F., Morretta, S., Caneva, G. (2023). The Roman Houses of the Caelian Hill (Rome, Italy): Multitemporal Evaluation of Biodeterioration Patterns. MICROORGANISMS, 11(7), 1770 [10.3390/microorganisms11071770].