Biomolecules. 2021 Feb 16;11(2):295. doi: 10.3390/biom11020295.
Fungi are among the biotic agents that can cause deterioration of building stones and cultural heritage. The most common methods used to control fungal spread and growth are based on chemical pesticides. However, the massive use of these synthetic chemicals produces heavy environmental pollution and risk to human and animal health. Furthermore, their use is time dependent and relies on the repetition of treatments, which increases the possibility of altering building stones and culture heritage through environmental contamination. One alternative is the use of natural products with high antifungal activity, which can result in reduced toxicity and deterioration of archeological remains. Recently, three fungal strains, namely Aspergillus niger, Alternaria alternata and Fusarium oxysporum, were isolated as damaging agents from the external tuff wall of the Roman remains “Villa of Poppea” in Oplontis, Naples, Italy. In this manuscript, three selected fungal metabolites, namely cyclopaldic acid, cavoxin and epi-epoformin, produced by fungi pathogenic for forest plants, were evaluated as potential antifungal compounds against the above fungi. Cavoxin and epi-epoformin showed antifungal activity against Asperigillus niger and Fusarium oxysporum, while cyclopaldic acid showed no activity when tested on the three fungi. The same antifungal activity was observed in vitro experiments on infected stones of the Neapolitan yellow tuff (NYT), a volcanic lithotype widely diffused in the archeological sites of Campania, Italy. This study represents a first step in the use of these two fungal metabolites to allow better preservation of artworks and to guarantee the conditions suitable for their conservation.