Cyanobacteria are an ancient line of photosynthesizing bacteria, which photolyze water generating oxygen gas. Ancient cyanobacteria were ancestral to the chloroplasts of all plants on earth. Gloeocapsa magma may resemble "algae" in that they are green, but in fact cyanobacteria are bacteria whereas algae are single-celled eukaryotes (cells with nuclei) that are closely related to plants.
Impact on human habitation
Gloeocapsa magma has gained notoriety in the Southeastern United States, but, it is also spreading throughout the Midwest. This particular type of cyanobacteria is responsible for creating black stains and streaks on roofs. The bacteria accumulate over time as it feeds on moisture and calcium carbonate. This accumulation begins to show the black stains as the cyanobacteria develop their dark and hard UV-protective outer coating.
The main reasons for the rapid spread and noticeability of these cyanobacteria are thought to be:
- Rising humidity and temperatures combined with more and more bacteria spores promotes their spread with these favorable conditions.
- Fiberglass shingles (the most commonly seen amongst today's residential homes) are made with limestone as a filler (in the asphalt). These shingles hold moisture and organic "bacteria food" material longer (especially on the North-side in the Midwest) than the paper/asphalt/ceramic shingles of 20+ years ago. This cyanobacteria causes substantial destruction to roofs causing shingle decay and loss of reflective power. Over time, Gloeocapsa magma breaks down the shingles by feeding off of the limestone granules embedded in the shingles. This decreases a roof's ability to reflect ultra-violet rays of light and shortens the life of the roof.
Once the bacteria have become noticeable, the stains will continue to worsen year to year. As the bacterial colony grows, gravity pulls it downward, resulting in the smear-like stain down roofs. Most "experts" within the subject area conclude the bacteria to be harmful, if left untreated, as the growth holds moisture within shingles causing premature aging, rotting, and/or granule loss.
The buildup of Gloeocaspa magma on residential properties has led to earlier roof replacements, lowered property resale values, insurance companies canceling policies and increased utility costs as the black stained roofing draws in more heat. ′Contractors Foundation′
- Brook, Alan J. (1968). "The Discoloration of Roofs in the United States and Canada by Algae". Journal of Phycology 4 (3): 250. doi:10.1111/j.1529-8817.1968.tb04722.x.
- Schoff, J. (2008). Green Up Your Cleanup. Creative Homeowner
- Extreme Exterior Cleaning, LLC (2015-02-03) Soft Washing Roofs and Roof Washing in Tallahassee Retrieved 2015-03-22