A novel contaminant in museums? A cross-sectional study on xerophilic Aspergillus growth in climate-controlled repositories

Camilla Jul Bastholm*, Birgitte Andersen, J. C. Frisvad, Stine Karstenskov Østergaard, Jeppe Lund Nielsen, Anne Mette Madsen, Jane Richter


Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


In the last decade, extensive fungal growth has developed in Danish museums parallel to climate change, challenging occupational health and heritage preservation. The growth was unexpected as the museums strived to control relative humidity below 60 %, and it should exceed 75 % to risk growth. A Danish case study found xerophilic Aspergillus species able to grow at low relative humidity in a museum repository. This cross-sectional study aimed to examine whether xerophilic growth from Aspergillus section Restricti has become a novel contaminant nationally distributed in Danish museum repositories striving to control relative humidity according to international environmental recommendations for heritage collections. The study examined The National Museum of Denmark and eight large State Recognized museums distributed throughout Denmark. It was based on 600 swab and tape-lift samples and 60 MAS100-Eco and filter air samples analyzed for fungi with cultivation and morphological identification, Big-Dye-Sanger sequencing, CaM-Nanopore and ITS-Illumina amplicon sequencing. The study showed growth from seven xerophilic Aspergillus species: A. conicus, A. domesticus, A. glabripes, A. halophilicus, A. magnivesiculatus, A. penicilloides, A. vitricola, of which three are new to Denmark, and 13 xerotolerant Aspergillus species. There was no growth from other fungal species. The multiple detection approach provided a broad characterization; however, there was variance in the detected species depending on the analysis approach. Cultivation and Big-Dye Sanger sequencing showed the highest Aspergillus diversity, detecting 17 species; CaM-Nanopore amplicon sequencing detected 12 species; and ITS-illumina amplicon sequencing detected two species but the highest overall diversity. Cultivation, followed by Big-Dye Sanger and CaM-amplicon sequencing, proved the highest compliance. The study concluded that xerophilic Aspergillus growth is nationally distributed and suggests species from Aspergillus section Restricti as a novel contaminant in climate-controlled museum repositories. To safeguard occupational health and heritage preservation research in sustainable solutions, avoiding xerophilic growth in museum collections is most important.
TidsskriftScience of the Total Environment
StatusUdgivet - 20 sep. 2024


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