A safe microbe-based procedure for a gentle removal of aged animal glues from ancient paper

Nicoletta Barbabietola, Flavia Tasso, Chiara Alisi, Paola Marconi, Brunella Perito, Giovanna Pasquariello, Anna Rosa Sprocati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


In the past, the animal glues were used in paper manufacturing and in restoration of artworks preserved in museums, libraries and archives. By ageing they went through deterioration creating distortions, tensions, cockling and discolouration in paper materials. Consequently, the removal of glue residues becomes an essential step in the restoration of ancient and artwork paper material. Current mechanical and chemical methods display serious drawbacks mainly related to aggressiveness towards material or toxicity for restorers. Bio-based methods for paper cleaning rely on the use of enzymes that require skilled operators, optimal application conditions and high costs, creating difficulties in mastering enzyme use so far. This paper describes a first attempt of biocleaning ancient paper from organic deposits using living bacteria. The non-pathogenic, non-spore-forming and non-cellulolytic original strain Ochrobactrum sp. TNS15Ewas successfully applied -immobilised in an agar gel-on original paper specimens dating back to the 17th. After 4 h of contact with the bacterial pack, the cellulose fibres underlying glue were disclosed, highlighting the bacterial capacity of removing the glue layer without damaging the paper or leaving undesirable residues. Both colorimetry and SEM analyses proved the results. The procedure is simple, low-cost and safe for the artefact, the restorers and the environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53 - 60
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Biodeterioration and Biodegradation
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Biomaterials
  • Waste Management and Disposal

Cite this