Journal of Industrial Microbiology & Biotechnology

, Volume 44, Issue 11, pp 1511–1525 | Cite as

Microbial healing of cracks in concrete: a review

  • Sumit Joshi
  • Shweta Goyal
  • Abhijit Mukherjee
  • M. Sudhakara Reddy
Environmental Microbiology - Review


Concrete is the most widely used construction material of the world and maintaining concrete structures from premature deterioration is proving to be a great challenge. Early age formation of micro-cracking in concrete structure severely affects the serviceability leading to high cost of maintenance. Apart from conventional methods of repairing cracks with sealants or treating the concrete with adhesive chemicals to prevent the cracks from widening, a microbial crack-healing approach has shown promising results. The unique feature of the microbial system is that it enables self-healing of concrete. The effectiveness of microbially induced calcium carbonate precipitation (MICCP) in improving durability of cementitious building materials, restoration of stone monuments and soil bioclogging is discussed. Main emphasis has been laid on the potential of bacteria-based crack repair in concrete structure and the applications of different bacterial treatments to self-healing cracks. Furthermore, recommendations to employ the MICCP technology at commercial scale and reduction in the cost of application are provided in this review.


Microbial concrete Autogenous healing Self-healing Crack healing Urea hydrolysis Bacillus 



Authors are thankful to Department of Science and Technology, Govt. of India, for providing financial support to carry out research in “Durability enhancement and prevention of damages in reinforced structures using bacteria (DST no: SB/S3/CEE/0063/2013)”.


  1. 1.
    Achal V, Mukherjee A, Basu PC, Reddy MS (2009) Lactose mother liquor as an alternative nutrient source for microbial concrete production by Sporosarcina pasteurii. J Ind Microbiol Biotechnol 36:433–438CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Achal V, Mukherjee A, Basu PC, Reddy MS (2009) Strain improvement of Sporosarcina pasteurii for enhanced urease and calcite production. J Ind Microbiol Biotechnol 36:981–988CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Achal V, Mukherjee A, Reddy MS (2010) Biocalcification by Sporosarcina pasteurii using corn steep liquor as nutrient source. Ind Biotechnol 6:170–174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Achal V, Mukherjee A, Reddy MS (2011) Microbial Concrete: way to enhance the durability of building structures. J Mater Civil Eng 23:730–734CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Achal V, Mukherjee A, Zhang Q (2016) Unearthing ecological wisdom from natural habitats and its ramifications on development of biocement and sustainable cities. Landsc Urban Plan 155:61–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Achal V, Pan X, Özyurt N (2011) Improved strength and durability of fly ash-amended concrete by microbial calcite precipitation. Ecol Eng 37:554–559CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Achal V, Mukherjee A, Goyal S, Reddy MS (2012) Corrosion prevention of reinforced concrete with microbial calcite precipitation. ACI Mater J 109:157–164Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Achal V, Mukerjee A, Reddy MS (2013) Biogenic treatment improves the durability and remediates the cracks of concrete structures. Constr Build Mater 48:1–5CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Ahn TH, Kishi T (2010) Crack self-healing behavior of cementitious composites incorporating various mineral admixtures. J Adv Concr Technol 8:171–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Anbu P, Kang CH, Shin YJ, So JS (2016) Formations of calcium carbonate minerals by bacteria and its multiple applications. Springerplus 5:250CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Bang SS, Galinat JK, Ramakrishnan V (2001) Calcite precipitation induced by polyurethane-immobilized Bacillus pasteurii. Enzyme Microb Technol 28:404–409CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Bansal R, Dhami NK, Mukherjee A, Reddy MS (2016) Biocalcification by halophilic bacteria for remediation of concrete structures in marine environment. J Ind Microbiol Biotechnol 43:1497–1505CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Basheer L, Kropp J, Cleland DJ (2001) Assessment of the durability of concrete from its permeation properties: a review. Constr Build Mater 15:93–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Basheer PAM, Chidiac SE, Long AE (1996) Predictive models for deterioration of concrete structures. Constr Build Mater 10:27–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Blaiszik BJ, Kramer SLB, Olugebefola SC, Moore JS, Sottos NR, White SR (2010) Self-healing polymers and composites. Annu Rev Mater Res 40:179–211CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Bundur ZB, Kirisits MJ, Ferron RD (2015) Biomineralized cement-based materials: impact of inoculating vegetative bacterial cells on hydration and strength. Cem Concr Res 67:237–245CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Castanier S, Le Me´tayer-Levrel G, Perthuisot JP (2000) Bacterial roles in the precipitation of carbonate minerals. Microbial sediments. Springer, Heidelberg, pp 32–39Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Castanier S, Le Me´tayer-Levrel G, Perthuisot JP (1999) Ca-carbonates precipitation and limestone genesis—the microbiogeologist point of view. Sediment Geol 126:9–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Chattopadhyay B, Sarkar M (2016) Genetically modified Bacillus subtilis bacterial strain for self-healing and sustainable green bio-concrete material. Org Chem Curr Res 5:3Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Chu J, Stabnikov V, Ivanov V (2012) Microbially induced calcium carbonate precipitation on surface or in the bulk of soil. Geomicrobiol J 29:544–549CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Clear CA (1985) The effect of autogenous healing upon leakage of water through cracks in concrete. Cem Concr Assoc (Tech Rpt 559)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Daskalakis MI, Rigas F, Bakolas A, Magoulas A, Kotoulas G, Katsikis I, Karageorgis AP, Mavridou A (2015) Vaterite bio-precipitation induced by Bacillus pumilus isolated from a solutional cave in Paiania, Athens, Greece. Int Biodeterior Biodegrad 99:73–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Da Silva FB, De Belie N, Boon N, Verstraete W (2015) Production of non-axenic ureolytic spores for self-healing concrete applications. Constr Build Mater 93:1034–1041CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    De Belie N (2016) Application of bacteria in concrete: a critical review. RILEM Tech Lett 1:56–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    De Muynck W, Cox K, De Belie N, Verstraete W (2008) Bacterial carbonate precipitation as an alternative surface treatment for concrete. Constr Build Mater 22:875–885CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    De Muynck W, De Belie N, Verstraete W (2010) Microbial carbonate precipitation in construction materials: a review. Ecol Eng 36:118–136CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Dhami NK, Reddy MS, Mukherjee A (2013) Bacillus megaterium mediated mineralization of calcium carbonate as biogenic surface treatment of green building materials. World J Microbiol Biotechnol 29:2397–2406CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Dhami NK, Reddy MS, Mukherjee A (2013) Biomineralization of calcium carbonates and their engineered applications: a review. Front Microbiol 4:314CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Dillow C (2010) Engineered bacteria can fill cracks in aging concrete. In: Popular Science. Available via DIALOG. Accessed 14 Jul 2017
  30. 30.
    Douglas S, Beveridge TJ (1998) Mineral formation by bacteria in natural microbial communities. FEMS Microbiol Ecol 26:79–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Dry C (1994) Matrix cracking repair and filling using active and passive modes for smart timed release of chemicals from fibres into cement matrices. Smart Mater Struct 3:118–123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Edvardsen C (1999) Water permeability and autogenous healing of cracks in concrete. ACI Mater J 96:448–455Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Ersan YC, Gruyaert E, Louis G, Lors C, DeBelie N, Boon N (2015) Self-protected nitrate reducing culture for intrinsic repair of concrete cracks. Front Microbiol 6:1228CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Fowler DW (1999) Polymers in concrete: a vision for the 21st century. Cem Concr Compos 21:449–452CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Fujita Y, Redden GD, Ingram JC, Cortez MM, Ferris FG, Smith RW (2004) Strontium incorporation into calcite generated by bacterial ureolysis. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 68:3261–3270CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Grengg C, Mittermayr F, Baldermann A, Böttcher ME, Leis A, Koraimann G, Grunert P, Dietzel M (2015) Microbiologically induced concrete corrosion: a case study from a combined sewer network. Cem Concr Res 77:16–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Guppy R (1988) Autogenous healing of cracks in concrete and its relevance to radwaste repositories. NSS/R—105. Nirex, United KingdomGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Hammes F, Verstraete W (2002) Key roles of pH and calcium metabolism in microbial carbonate precipitation. Rev Environ Sci Biotechnol 1:3–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Hearn N (1998) Self-sealing, autogenous healing and continued hydration: what is the difference? Mater Struct 31:563–567CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Issa CA, Debs P (2007) Experimental study of epoxy repairing of cracks in concrete. Constr Build Mater 21:157–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Jonkers HM (2011) Bacteria-based self healing concrete. Heron 56:1–12Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Jonkers HM, Schlangen E (2007) Crack repair by concrete-immobilized bacteria. In: Proceedings of the first international conference on self-healing materials, pp 18–20Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Jonkers HM, Thijssen A, Muyzer G, Copuroglu O, Schlangen E (2010) Application of bacteria as self-healing agent for the development of sustainable concrete. Ecol Eng 36:230–235CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Jroundi F, Gonzalez-Muñoz MT, Garcia-Bueno A, Rodriguez-Navarro C (2014) Consolidation of archaeological gypsum plaster by bacterial biomineralization of calcium carbonate. Acta Biomater 10:3844–3854CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Kalhori H, Bagherpour R (2017) Application of carbonate precipitating bacteria for improving properties and repairing cracks of shotcrete. Constr Build Mater 148:249–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Kaur G, Dhami NK, Goyal S, Mukherjee A, Reddy MS (2016) Utilization of carbon dioxide as an alternative to urea in biocementation. Constr Build Mater 123:527–533CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Kim HK, Park SJ, Han JI, Lee HK (2013) Microbially mediated calcium carbonate precipitation on normal and lightweight concrete. Constr Build Mater 38:1073–1082CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Kirkland CM, Zanetti S, Grunewald E, Walsh WO, Codd SL, Phillips AJ (2017) Detecting microbially induced calcite precipitation in a model well-bore using downhole low-field NMR. Environ Sci Technol 51:1537–1543CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Kristiansen B (2001) Process economics. In: Ratledge C, Kristiansen B (eds) Biotechnology, 2nd edn. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Kumari C, Das B, Jayabalan R, Davis R, Sarkar P (2017) Effect of nonureolytic bacteria on engineering properties of cement mortar. J Mater Civ Eng 29:06016024CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Le Metayer-Levrel G, Castanier S, Orial G, Loubiere JF, Perthuisot JP (1999) Applications of bacterial carbonatogenesis to the protection and regeneration of limestones in buildings and historic patrimony. Sediment Geol 126:25–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Micallef R, Vella D, Sinagra E, Zammit G (2016) Biocalcifying Bacillus subtilis cells effectively consolidate deteriorated Globigerina limestone. J Ind Microbiol Biotechnol 43:941–952CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Martinez BC, DeJong JT, Ginn TR, Montoya BM, Barkouki TH, Hunt C, Tanyu B, Major D (2013) Experimental optimization of microbial-induced carbonate precipitation for soil improvement. J Geotech Geoenviron 139:587–598CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Mihashi H, Nishiwali T (2012) Development of engineered self-healing and self-repairing concrete. J Adv Concr Technol 10:170–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Morse JW (1983) The kinetics of calcium carbonate dissolution and precipitation. Rev Miner Geochem 11:227–264Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Muyzer G, Stams AJ (2008) The ecology and biotechnology of sulphate-reducing bacteria. Nat Rev Microbiol 6:441–454PubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Ohama Y (1998) Polymer-based admixtures. Cem Concr Compos 20:189–212CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. 58.
    Peckmann J, Paul J, Thiel V (1999) Bacterially mediated formation of diagenetic aragonite and native sulfur in Zechstein carbonates (Upper Permian, Central Germany). Sediment Geol 126:205–222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    Phillips AJ, Cunningham AB, Gerlach R, Hiebert R, Hwang C, Lomans BP, Westrich J, Mantilla C, Kirksey J, Esposito R, Spangler L (2016) Fracture sealing with microbially-induced calcium carbonate precipitation: a field study. Environ Sci Technol 50:4111–4117CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    Phillips AJ, Gerlach R, Lauchnor E, Mitchell AC, Cunningham AB, Spangler L (2013) Engineered applications of ureolytic biomineralization: a review. Biofouling 29:715–733CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  61. 61.
    Qian C, Chen H, Ren L, Luo M (2015) Self-healing of early age cracks in cement-based materials by mineralization of carbonic anhydrase microorganism. Front Microbiol 6:1225CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  62. 62.
    Ramachandran SK, Ramakrishnan V, Bang SS (2001) Remediation of concrete using micro-organisms. ACI Mater J 98:3–9Google Scholar
  63. 63.
    Reinhardt HW, Jooss M (2003) Permeability and self-healing of cracked concrete as a function of temperature and crack width. Cem Concr Res 33:981–985CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. 64.
    Rodriguez-Navarro C, Rodriguez-Gallego M, Chekroun KB, Gonzalez-Mun˜oz MT (2003) Conservation of ornamental stone by Myxococcus xanthus-induced carbonate biomineralization. Appl Env Microbiol 69:2182–2193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. 65.
    Richardson A, Coventry K, Pasley J (2016) Bacterial crack sealing and surface finish application to concrete. In: fourth international conference on sustainable construction materials and technologies
  66. 66.
    Sahmaran M, Keskin SB, Ozerkan G, Yaman IO (2008) Self-healing of mechanically-loaded self-consolidating concretes with high volumes of fly ash. Cem Concr Compos 30:872–879CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. 67.
    Sangadji S (2017) Can self-healing mechanism helps concrete structures sustainable? Procedia Eng 171:238–249CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. 68.
    Seifan M, Samani AK, Berenjian A (2016) Bioconcrete: next generation of self-healing concrete. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 100:2591–2602CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  69. 69.
    Sharma TK, Alazhari M, Heath A, Paine K, Cooper RM (2017) Alkaliphilic Bacillus species show potential application in concrete crack repair by virtue of rapid spore production and germination then extracellular calcite formation. J Appl Microbiol 122:1233–1244CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  70. 70.
    Silva FB, Boon N, De Belie N, Verstraete W (2015) Industrial application of biological self-healing concrete: challenges and economical feasibility. J Commer Biotechnol 21:31–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. 71.
    Sisomphon K, Copuroglu O, Koenders EAB (2012) Self-healing of surface cracks in mortars with expansive additive and crystalline additive. Cem Concr Compos 34:566–574CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. 72.
    Stocks-Fischer S, Galinat JK, Bang SS (1999) Microbiological precipitation of CaCO3. Soil Biol Biochem 31:1563–1571CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. 73.
    Stumm W, Morgan JJ (1981) Aquatic chemistry. John wiley, NewYorkGoogle Scholar
  74. 74.
    Tiano P, Biagiotti L, Mastromei G (1999) Bacterial bio-mediated calcite precipitation for monumental stones conservation: methods of evaluation. J Microbiol Methods 36:139–145CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  75. 75.
    Tittelboom KV, De Belie N, De Muynck W, Verstraete W (2010) Use of bacteria to repair cracks in concrete. Cem Concr Res 40:157–166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. 76.
    Tziviloglou E, Wiktor V, Jonkers HM, Schlangen E (2016) Bacteria-based self-healing concrete to increase liquid tightness of cracks. Constr Build Mater 122:118–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. 77.
    Tziviloglou E, Tittelboom KV, Palin D, Wang J, Sierra-Beltran MG, Erşan YC, Mors R, Wiktor V, Jonkers HM, Schlangen E, De Belie N (2016) Bio-based self-healing concrete: from research to field application. In: Hager M, van der Zwaag S, Schubert U (eds) Self-healing materials. Advances in polymer science. Springer, Cham, pp 345–385CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. 78.
    Wang JY, De Belie N, Verstraete W (2012) Diatomaceous earth as a protective vehicle for bacteria applied for self-healing concrete. J Ind Microbiol Biotechnol 39:567–577CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  79. 79.
    Wang J, Mignon A, Snoeck D, Wiktor V, Vliergerghe SV, Boon N, De Belie N (2015) Application of modified alginate encapsulated carbonate producing bacteria in concrete: a promising strategy for crack self-healing. Front Microbiol 6:1088PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  80. 80.
    Wang JY, Snoeck D, Vlierberghe SV, Verstraete W, De Belie N (2014) Application of hydrogel encapsulated carbonate precipitating bacteria for approaching a realistic self-healing in concrete. Constr Build Mater 68:110–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. 81.
    Wang JY, Soens H, Verstraete W, De Belie N (2014) Self-healing concrete by use of microencapsulated bacterial spores. Cem Concr Res 56:139–152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. 82.
    Wang J, Ersan YC, Boon N, De Belie N (2016) Application of microorganisms in concrete: a promising sustainable strategy to improve concrete durability. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 100:2993–3007CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  83. 83.
    Warren LA, Maurice PA, Parmar N, Ferris FG (2001) Microbially mediated calcium carbonate precipitation: implications for interpreting calcite precipitation and for solid-phase capture of inorganic contaminants. Geomicrobiol J 18:93–115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. 84.
    Wiktor V, Jonkers HM (2011) Quantification of crack-healing in novel bacteria-based self-healing concrete. Cem Concr Compos 33:763–770CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. 85.
    Wiktor V, Jonkers HM (2015) Field performance of bacteria-based repair system: pilot study in a parking garage. Case Stud Constr Mater 2:11–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. 86.
    Williams SL, Kirisits MJ, Ferron RD (2016) Optimization of growth medium for Sporosarcina pasteurii in bio-based cement pastes to mitigate delay in hydration kinetics. J Ind Microbiol Biotechnol 43:567–575CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  87. 87.
    Wu M, Johannesson B, Geiker M (2012) A review: self-healing in cementitious materials and engineered cementitious composite as a self-healing material. Constr Build Mater 28:571–583CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. 88.
    Xu J, Yao W (2014) Multiscale mechanical quantification of self-healing concrete incorporating non-ureolytic bacteria-based healing agent. Cem Concr Res 64:1–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. 89.
    Xu J, Du Y, Jiang Z, She A (2015) Effects of calcium source on biochemical properties of microbial CaCO3 precipitation. Front Microbiol 6:1366PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  90. 90.
    Yuan YC, Rong MZ, Zhang MQ, Chen J, Yang GC, Li XM (2008) Self-healing polymeric materials using epoxy/mercaptan as the healant. Macromolecules 41:5197–5202CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. 91.
    Zemskov SV, Jonkers HM, Vermolen FJ (2014) A mathematical model for bacterial self-healing of cracks in concrete. J Intell Mater Syst Struct 25:4–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. 92.
    Zhang JL, Wu RS, Li YM, Zhong JY, Deng X, Liu B, Han NX, Xing F (2016) Screening of bacteria for self-healing of concrete cracks and optimization of the microbial calcium precipitation process. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 100:6661–6670CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  93. 93.
    Zhang JL, Wang CG, Wang QL, Feng JL, Pan W, Zheng XC, Liu B, Han NX, Xing F, Deng X (2016) A binary concrete crack self-healing system containing oxygen-releasing tablet and bacteria and its Ca2+-precipitation performance. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 100:10295–10306CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  94. 94.
    Zhu T, Dittrich M (2016) Carbonate precipitation through microbial activities in natural environment, and their potential in biotechnology: a review. Front Bioeng Biotechnol 4:4CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  95. 95.
    Zhu T, Lu X, Dittrich M (2017) Calcification on mortar by live and UV-killed biofilm-forming cyanobacterial Gloeocapsa PCC73106. Constr Build Mater 146:43–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  96. 96.
    Zhu T, Paulo C, Merroun ML, Dittrich M (2015) Potential application of biomineralization by Synechococcus PCC8806 for concrete restoration. Ecol Eng 82:459–468CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sumit Joshi
    • 1
  • Shweta Goyal
    • 2
  • Abhijit Mukherjee
    • 3
  • M. Sudhakara Reddy
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiotechnologyThapar UniversityPatialaIndia
  2. 2.Department of Civil EngineeringThapar UniversityPatialaIndia
  3. 3.Department of Civil EngineeringCurtin UniversityBentleyAustralia

Personalised recommendations