Microbiology and Molecular Biology in Art

Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

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Other research infrastructure

Short Description

We offer at our Institute the technology and know-how to investigate the interactions between microorganisms - moulds, bacteria, archaea, algae, lichens - and materials. To this end, we apply classical cultivation techniques as well as high throughput molecular techniques. The use of the latest molecular biological methods (omics analyses) by using the Nanopore sequencing technology allows the complete recording of microbial communities and their properties with regard to the modification and ageing of materials.

Contact Person

Dr. Guadalupe Piñar

Research Services


Methods & Expertise for Research Infrastructure

1. Classical characterisation of microbial communities
Including classical culture methods and identification of micro-organisms isolated from an object or material.
2. Molecular characterisation of microbial communities
The Nanopore sequencing technology allows to analyse in a simple and fast way all the genetic information (DNA) present in an object: the "Microbiome".

The analysis of the recent and dead microbial community from its DNA - the microbiome - with "omics" methods provides information on:
a. Conservation status of an object and latent risk of biogenic destruction.
b. Origin and geographical movements of artefacts
c. Storage conditions of artefacts
d. Manufacture and history of use of the artefacts

Dr. Guadalupe Piñar
Institut für Naturwissenschaften und Technologie in der Kunst

Univ.-Prof. Dipl.-Biol. Dr. Katja Sterflinger
Institut für Naturwissenschaften und Technologie in der Kunst
Please contact us (see above).
Piñar, G., Sterflinger, K. (2021) Natural sciences at the service of art and cultural heritage: an interdisciplinary area in development and important challenges. Microb. Biotech. 0(0), 1–4. doi:10.1111/1751-7915.13766

Piñar G, Sclocchi M.C, Pinzari F, Colaizzi P, Graf A, Sebastiani M.L, Sterflinger K. (2020) The microbiome of Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings: a bio-archive of their history. Front. Microbiol. 11:593401. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2020.593401

Piñar G, Tafer H, Schreiner M, Miklas H, Sterflinger K. (2020) Decoding the biological information contained in two ancient Slavonic parchment codices: an added historical value. Environ. Microbiol. 22: 3218–3233. https://doi.org/10.1111/1462-2920.15064

Piñar G, Poyntner C, Lopandic K, Tafer H, Sterflinger K. (2020) Rapid diagnosis of biological colonization in cultural artefacts using the MinION nanopore sequencing technology. Int. Biodeter. Biodegr. 148: 104908. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ibiod.2020.104908

Piñar G, Poyntner C, Tafer H., Sterflinger K. (2019) A time travel story: metagenomic analyses decipher the unknown geographical shift and the storage history of possibly smuggled antique marble statues. Ann. Microbiol. 69: 1001–1021.