White pine blister rust  
     
  Sudden Oak Death  
     
  Agarwood  
     
  Antarctica  
     
  Microbes in wood  
     
  Biological control  
     
  Arctic Studies  
     
  Archaeological wood  
     
  Eucalyptus diseases  
 


 
     
    Microbes in the Historic Expedition Huts of Antarctica
 

 

During the heroic era of exploration huts were built along the Ross Sea region by Robert Scott and Ernest Shackleton to house their expedition crews for up to 3 years while they explored Antarctica and tried to be the first to reach the South Pole. When their relief ships came the wooden huts and thousands of artifacts were left behind. After 9 to 10 decades, the huts are deteriorating and mold growth is active inside the huts during the austral summer.

With funds from the National Science Foundation and with cooperation from the Antarctic Heritage Trust and the University of Waikato in New Zealand we have been studying the microorganisms active in this extreme environment. The fungi responsible for decaying the wood are very unusual and species identified are rarely found in temperate areas. Since these species have received little to no study, we are currently working on the biology and ecology of these unique microorganisms. Environmental monitoring of the huts is also currently underway and ways to prevent mold growth inside the huts on wood, textiles, paper, etc. is being investigated.

Link to more information and photographs about our research in Antarctica


For a PDF file reprint of recently published research see:

Blanchette, R. A., B. W. Held, B. E. Arenz, J. A. Jurgens, N. J. Baltes, S. M. Duncan and R. L. Farrell. 2010. An Antarctic hot spot for fungi at Shackleton's historic hut on Cape Royds. Microbial Ecology doi: 10.1007/s00248-010-9664-z (see the Microbial Ecology journal web site "Online First" articles)

Stehberg, Ruben, M. Pearson, R. A. Blanchette and J. A. Jurgens. 2009. A further note on a sealer's sledge discovered on Livingston Island, South Shetland Islands. Polar Record 45:275. doi:10.1017/S0032247409008201

Arenz, B. E. and R. A. Blanchette. 2009. Investigations of fungal diversity in wooden structures and soils at historic sites on the Antarctic Peninsula. Canadian Journal of Microbiology 55:46-56. Reprint

Konkol, N. R., C J. McNamara, R. A. Blanchette, E. May and R. Mitchell. 2008. Microbes can damage but also help restore artifacts. Microbe 3(12): 563-567. Reprint

Arenz, B. A. and R. A. Blanchette. 2008. East Base, SOS: Assessment of deterioration and recommendations for conserving this important Antarctic site. In: Historical Polar Bases – Preservation and Management. Edited by S. Barr and P. Chaplin. ICOMOS Monuments and Sites No.XVII.  International Polar Heritage Committee, Oslo, Norway pp.96.  ISBN 978-82-996891-2-0. Copies can be obtained from the IPCH.

Duncan, S. M., R. Minasaki, R. L. Farrell, J.M. Thaites, B. W. Held, B. E. Arenz, Joel A. Jurgens and R. A. Blanchette. 2008. Screening fungi isolated from historic Discovery Hut on Ross Island, Antarctica for cellulose degradation. Antarctic Science 20:463-470. Reprint

Farrell, R. L., S. Duncan, R. A. Blanchette, B. W. Held, J. A. Jurgens and B. A. Arenz. 2008. Scientific evaluation of deterioration of historic huts of Ross Island, Antarctica. In: Historical Polar Bases – Preservation and Management. Edited by S. Barr and P. Chaplin. ICOMOS Monuments and Sites No.XVII.  International Polar Heritage Committee, Oslo, Norway pp.96.  ISBN 978-82-996891-2-0. Copies can be obtained from the IPCH.

Other previously published papers:

Arenz, B. E., B. W. Held, J. A. Jurgens, R. L. Farrell and R. A. Blanchette. 2006. Fungal diversity in soils and historic wood from the Ross Sea Region of Antarctica. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 38:3057-3064.

Duncan, S., R. L. Farrell, J. M. Thwaites, B. W. Held, B. E. Arenz, J. A. Jurgens and R. A. Blanchette. 2006. Endoglucanase-producing fungi isolated from Cape Evans historic expedition hut on Ross Island, Antarctica. Environmental Microbiology 8:1212-1219.

Held, B. W., J.A. Jurgens, S.M. Duncan, R.L. Farrell and R.A. Blanchette. 2006. Assessment of fungal diversity and deterioration in a wooden structure at New Harbor, Antarctica. Polar Biology 29:526-531. Published on line as DOI 10.1007/s00300-005-0084-3.

Held, B. W., J. A. Jurgens, B. E. Arenz, S. M. Duncan, R. L. Farrell and R. A. Blanchette. 2005. Environmetal factors influencing microbial growth inside the historic huts of Ross Island, Antarctica. International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation 55:45-53.

R.A. Banchette, B.W. Held, J.A. Jurgens, D.L. McNew, T.C. Harrington, S.M. Duncan, and R.L. Farrell. 2004. Wood-destroying soft rot fungi in the historic expedition huts of Antarctica. Applied Environmental Microbiology 70:1328-1335.

Blanchette, R. A., B. W. Held, J. A. Jurgens, J. Aislabie, S. Duncan and R. L. Farrell. 2004. Environmental pollutants from the Scott and Shackleton expeditions during the 'Heroic Age' of Antarctic exploration. Polar Record 40:143-151.

Farrell, R. L., R. A. Blanchette, M. Auger, S. M. Duncan, B. W. Held, J. A. Jurgens, and R. Minasaki. 2004. Scientific evaluation of deterioration in historic huts of Ross Island, Antarctica. In: S. Barr and P. Chaplin (Eds.), Polar Monuments and Sites: Cutural Heritage in the Arctic and Antarctica Regions. ICOMOS Monuments and Sites Number VIII. Available from the International Polar Heritage Committee

Blanchette, R.A., 2003. Deterioration in Historic and Archaeological Woods from Terrestrial Sites. In: Koestler, R.J., Koestler, V.R., Charola, A.E., and Nieto-Fernandez, F.E., (Eds.), Art, Biology, and Conservation: Biodeterioration of Works of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 328-347. PDF reprint

Blanchette, R. A., B. W. Held and R. L. Farrell. 2002. Defibration of wood in the expedition huts of Antarctica: an unusual deterioration process occurring in the polar environment. Polar Record 38:313-322.

 

 

 

 

 

©2006 Robert A. Blanchette. All Rights Reserved.
Site design by Patrick Corneille