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Humidity governs the wall-inhabiting fungal community composition in a 1600-year tomb of Emperor Yang

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Evangelos Petropoulos



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Biodeterioration caused by filamentous fungi is often a threat to the architectural heritage (i.e. tombs and historic sites). To specifically understand the deterioration phenomena caused by microorganisms in tombs and how these are shaped due to various environmental factors, the fungal communities in the coffin chamber of the Chinese emperor Yang (BC 569-618) were investigated at different heights using denaturant gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) fingerprinting. The associated environmental conditions, such as humidity, temperature, height and illumination, were also assessed. The results showed that a great diversity of fungal species (Cordyceps, Fusarium, Harpochytrium, Emericellopsis, Volutella, Cladosporium, Stachybotrys, Trichoderma, Cochlonema and two unknown fungal species) was present in emperor Yang’s coffin chamber. The predominant species were Stachybotrys, Fusarium, Trichoderma and Cochlonema. Redundancy analysis (RDA) indicated that humidity, temperature, height and illumination were the most significantly related factors shaping the fungal communities. Humidity showed the highest degree of variance description (19.2%) than all other environmental factors, followed by illumination (18.3%) and height (12.8%). Furthermore, fungal richness and diversity indices showed a positive correlation with humidity (p<0.05). These results help in understanding the fungal community in tombs, promoting the mitigation of deterioration phenomena of such building heritage for the present and future.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Li Y, Huang Z, Petropoulos E, Ma Y, Shen Y

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Scientific Reports

Year: 2020

Volume: 10

Online publication date: 21/05/2020

Acceptance date: 01/05/2020

Date deposited: 01/06/2020

ISSN (electronic): 2045-2322

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-65478-z


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