Manso, S., Calvo-Torras, M.T., De Belie, N., Segura, I., Aguado, A.
Evaluation of natural colonisation of cementitious materials: Effect of bioreceptivity and environmental conditions,
Science of the Total Environment,
512-513, pp. 444-453 (2015).


Incorporation of living organisms, such as photosynthetic organisms, on the structure envelope has become a priority in the area of architecture and construction due to aesthetical, economic and ecological advantages. Important research efforts are made to achieve further improvements, such as for the development of cementitious materials with an enhanced bioreceptivity to stimulate biological growth. Previously, the study of the bioreceptivity of cementitious materials has been carried out mainly under laboratory conditions although field-scale experiments may present different results.This work aims at analysing the colonisation of cementitious materials with different levels of bioreceptivity by placing them in three different environmental conditions. Specimens did not present visual colonisation, which indicates that environmental conditions have a greater impact than intrinsic properties of the material at this stage. Therefore, it appears that in addition to an optimized bioreceptivity of the concrete (i.e., composition, porosity and roughness), extra measures are indispensable for a rapid development of biological growth on concrete surfaces. An analysis of the colonisation in terms of genus and quantity of the most representative microorganisms found on the specimens for each location was carried out and related to weather conditions, such as monthly average temperature and total precipitation, and air quality in terms of NOx, SO2, CO and O3.OPC-based specimens presented a higher colonisation regarding both biodiversity and quantity. However, results obtained in a previous experimental programme under laboratory conditions suggested a higher suitability of Magnesium Phosphate Cement-based (MPC-based) specimens for algal growth. Consequently, carefully considering the environment and the relationships between the different organisms present in an environment is vital for successfully using a cementitious material as a substrate for biological growth.