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Biocides inducing resistance in Lascaux cave’s microbes

Study makes researchers wonder whether they should treat fungus or not

Biocides used in recent years to treat the growth of a black fungus on the cave-art-festooned walls of France’s Lascaux cave have eradicated some populations of human-introduced bacteria and fungi. However, those that remain — including some related to known human pathogens — are becoming biocide-resistant, researchers report in an upcoming issue of Naturwissenschaften.

The new findings come from analyses of around a dozen samples taken from several areas in the cave between April 2006 and January 2007, says Claude Alabouvette, a microbiologist at the University of Bourgogne in Dijon, France. Some of the samples came from areas that were obviously infested with fungal colonies, and others were taken from cave walls that lacked such infestations, he notes.

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