Current Microbiology

, Volume 64, Issue 2, pp 85–92

Microbial Biofilms on the Sandstone Monuments of the Angkor Wat Complex, Cambodia


    • University of Portsmouth
  • César Hernández Rodríguez
    • Instituto Politécnico Nacional
  • Yendi E. Navarro-Noya
    • Instituto Politécnico Nacional
  • B. Otto Ortega-Morales
    • Departamento de Microbiologia Ambiental y Biotecnologia, CA-UNACAM-16 PROMEP DES de Ingeniería y CienciasUniversidad Autonoma de Campeche

DOI: 10.1007/s00284-011-0034-y

Cite this article as:
Gaylarde, C.C., Rodríguez, C.H., Navarro-Noya, Y.E. et al. Curr Microbiol (2012) 64: 85. doi:10.1007/s00284-011-0034-y


Discoloring biofilms from Cambodian temples Angkor Wat, Preah Khan, and the Bayon and West Prasat in Angkor Thom contained a microbial community dominated by coccoid cyanobacteria. Molecular analysis identified Chroococcidiopsis as major colonizer, but low similarity values (<95%) suggested a similar genus or species not present in the databases. In only two of the six sites sampled were filamentous cyanobacteria, Microcoleus, Leptolyngbya, and Scytonema, found; the first two detected by sequencing of 16S rRNA gene library clones from samples of a moist green biofilm on internal walls in Preah Khan, where Lyngbya (possibly synonymous with Microcoleus) was seen by direct microscopy as major colonizer. Scytonema was detected also by microscopy on an internal wall in the Bayon. This suggests that filamentous cyanobacteria are more prevalent in internal (high moisture) areas. Heterotrophic bacteria were found in all samples. DNA sequencing of bands from DGGE gels identified Proteobacteria (Stenotrophomonas maltophilia and Methylobacterium radiotolerans) and Firmicutes (Bacillus sp., Bacillus niacini, Bacillus sporothermodurans, Lysinibacillus fusiformis, Paenibacillus sp., Paenibacilluspanacisoli, and Paenibacillus zanthoxyli). Some of these bacteria produce organic acids, potentially degrading stone. Actinobacteria, mainly streptomycetes, were present in most samples; algae and fungi were rare. A dark-pigmented filamentous fungus was detected in internal and external Preah Khan samples, while the alga Trentepohlia was found only in samples taken from external, pink-stained stone at Preah Khan. Results show that these microbial biofilms are mature communities whose major constituents are resistant to dehydration and high levels of irradiation and can be involved in deterioration of sandstone. Such analyses are important prerequisites to the application of control strategies.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011