Dr. Julia Maresca: "Hard microbiology: Naturally-occurring bacterial communities in and on concrete"

  • Nov 16, 2015

Gueast speaker Dr. Julia Maresca from The University of Delaware joins us Friday, November 20, 2015 to discuss “Hard microbiology: Naturally-occurring bacterial communities in and on concrete”.  She will begin her talk at 12:30pm in Room 204 Natural Science Building.  Please feel welcome to join us!

 

“Hard microbiology: Naturally-occurring bacterial communities in and on concrete”  

Bacteria have long been known to catalyze degradation of concrete, and have more recently been used to repair micro-cracks in or form protective biofilms on cement mortar. However, the bacterial communities in and on concrete under ordinary weathering conditions have not been characterized. We have developed a method for extraction of nucleic acids (DNA) directly from concrete, and demonstrate that bacterial communities in concrete are dominated by Actinobacteria and Alphaproteobacteria. Microbial diversity on the concrete surface is only slightly affected by deposition from the atmosphere or precipitation, and many bacteria present in and on concrete are related to species found in deserts, soda lakes, or hypersaline lagoons: other dry, alkaline, or salty environments. In ongoing experiments, we are characterizing the changes in microbial community and concrete structure in concrete cylinders made with materials either susceptible or resistant to alkali-silica-reaction and exposed to normal weather conditions. This work lays the foundation for the identification of bioindicators for concrete damage, and may open new avenues in the fields of non-destructive testing and structural health monitoring.