Vivar, I. and Borrego, S.F. and Ellis, Garry and Moreno Gómez, Diego Alejandro and García Ruiz, Ana María
Fungal biodeterioration of colour cinematographic films of the cultural heritage of Cuba.
"International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation", v. 84
Until recently, cinematographic film was largely cellulose-triacetate-based. However, this material is highly susceptible to biodeterioration, thus placing historic film collections, an important part of the cultural heritage of many countries, at risk. In the present study, samples taken from several biodeteriorated color cinematographic films belonging to the collection of the Cuban Institute for Cinematographic Industry and Arts (ICAIC) were investigated. Infrared spectroscopy showed that all films were of the same composition, i.e., a gelatin emulsion coating one side of a cellulose-triacetate-based film support. The films were analyzed by environmental scanning electron microscopy and scanning electron microscopy to determine the degree of biodeterioration and the type of colonizing microorganisms. Significant fungal colonization was found on both sides of the films in all samples, with a higher concentration of fungi on the gelatin emulsion side. Epifluorescence microscopy of fluorochrome-dyed films demonstrated that some of the fungi were still active, indicating that the films under study, and probably others at the ICAIC, are at risk of further deterioration. Fungi were identified by molecular biology techniques. The fungi mainly responsible for the observed biodeterioration were those belonging to the genera Aspergillus and Cladosporium, although other genera, such as Microascus and Penicillium, were identified as well. In accordance with the findings described herein, the existing guidelines for the prevention and control of film biodeterioration are discussed.