Our history

Established in 1969.

The origins of the IBBS

The biodeterioration of materials has always affected humankind. During the Second World War (1939-45) large quantities of relatively high-technology material was exposed to tropical conditions, especially by the USA in the Pacific theatre. The realisation that biological decay could affect modern manufactures as well as traditional organic materials and stored foods led to the creation of the post-war Prevention of Deterioration Center in the USA, which produced publications for some years.

The first Biodeterioration Symposium (the first scientific meeting in UK on the topic) was held at the London School for Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in April 1965. It was organised by the Microbial Group of the Society of Chemical Industry. As a result, the first International Biodeterioration Symposium was held in 1968 in Southampton, UK. A Standing Committee for Biodeterioration Symposia was set up during the Southampton meeting to oversee the decision made there to hold a second symposium in 1971.

There was already a UK National Committee of the OECD Biological Deterioration of Materials Group. The Society also owes in part its origin to this group. In 1967 the OECD hived off the group (which became the International Biodegradation Research Group – IBRG) and so the idea was born of forming a society to continue the successful contacts established in the UK National Committee.

The first IBRG secretariat was based at TNO in The Netherlands. In the UK, the Biodeterioration Information Centre was set up at the now Aston University by Howard Eggins, with the aid of an initial grant from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) of the UK Government.

In 1968, preliminary discussions were held to consider the desirability and the most suitable way of forming a Society. One problem was to decide whether it would be preferable to form a separate autonomous organisation, or whether it should take advantage of the support and facilities of an existing group, such as the Society of Chemical Industry. The two major decisions to emerge from these discussions were, firstly, that the Society should be international in character and not just a British Society, and secondly that that the Society should accept the kind offer of Dr Eggins that he would endeavour to arrange that the International Biodeterioration Bulletin should serve as the official organ of the Society. The International Biodeterioration Bulletin (IBB) was the primary journal published by the Biodeterioration Information Centre, of which Dr Eggins was the Director.

In 1969 the relationship between the Society and the IBB journal was formulated and a draft Society constitution was subsequently agreed. An inaugural committee was established to supervise the formation of the Society comprising Bill Bunker as the First President of the Society, with John Elphick and Neil Butler as Hon. Secretary and Hon. Treasurer respectively, and with Howard Eggins, Arthur Lloyd, John Savory and Keith Selby as members.

The first AGM of the Society was held at the Royal Commonwealth Society, Northumberland Avenue, London WC2 on Friday 9th July, 1971.

The first scientific meeting of the Society was held at the Royal Society of Arts on 12th November 1971.

The journal

The first journal (Official Organ) of the Society was the International Biodeterioration Bulletin, founded by Howard Eggins at the Biodeterioration Information Centre (BIC), Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Aston in Birmingham. When that Centre closed, as a result of cuts in UK University funding, the journal was taken over by the then Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux (CAB) at its Commonwealth Mycological Institute (CMI) at Kew. CAB also took on the BIC’s bibliographic journals as part of its range of CAB Abstracts and database. Primary journals came under increasing commercial pressure and the journal was then taken over by Applied Science/Elsevier. The Society agreed with Elsevier that the Journal should be named as the official organ of the Society. It continues as International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation.

Calendar of events leading to the formation of the Society

1962 Biological Deterioration of Materials Research Group founded at OECD, Paris, France

1965 “International Biodeterioration Bulletin” (IBB) first published by the Biodeterioration Information Centre, Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Aston in Birmingham, Birmingham, UK

The IBB was later adopted by the Biodeterioration Society as its official organ, but not owned or financed by it.

“Biodeterioration in the Tropics” symposium held in London under the auspices of the Society for Chemical Industry (SCI)

1968 1st International Biodeterioration Symposium, Southampton, UK, 9-14 Sept

1969 Formation of The Biodeterioration Society following discussions at the First International Biodeterioration Symposium

1970 Inaugural meeting of the Biodeterioration Society

1971 2nd International Biodeterioration Symposium, Lunteren, The Netherlands, 13-18 September

1972 The Standing Committee (ISSC) came under the auspices of the Society. This is noted in BS Council minutes of a meeting held on 12th January

1974 The President of the BS, who was also the Chairman of the Standing Committee (then known as SCIS and after as SCIBS) proposed that SCIS “should appear in the Constitution” as of a similar composition to the Programme Committee

1975 Constitution of BS was officially amended to include SCIBS

1975 3rd International Biodegradation Symposium, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, USA, 17-23 August

1978 4th International Biodeterioration Symposium, Berlin, Germany, August-September

1981 5th International Biodeterioration Symposium, Aberdeen, Scotland, September

1984 6th International Biodeterioration Symposium, George Washington University, Washington DC, USA, August

1987 7th International Biodeterioration Symposium, Cambridge University, UK, 6-11 September

1990 8th International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation Symposium (IBBS), University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada. 26-31 August

1993 9th IBBS, University of Leeds, UK, 5-10 September

1996 10th IBBS, Hamburg, Germany

1999 11th IBBS, Virginia, USA

2002 12th IBBS, Prague, Czech Republic. 14-18 July

2005 13th IBBS, Madrid, Spain 4-9 September

2008 14th IBBS, Taormina, Sicily, Italy 6-11 October

2011 15th IBBS, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) Wien, Austria. Symposium 19-24 September

2014 16th IBBS, Łódź, Poland

2017 17th IBBS, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester UK

In the mid-1970s, in a move to widen the geographic spread of the Society and encourage local groups to become capable of hosting future symposia, HRMS were introduced. Little or no funding was available, and the internet did not exist, so it was little wonder that Regional Meetings Groups never really took off. There was some activity for a while in the USA, and nominally a group was mooted in India. The main development in “globalisation” came later, not directly from the BS but on the initiative of William Latorre, who co-opted Christine Gaylarde who had moved to Brazil. The series of Latin American Biodeterioration Symposia (LABS) initiated by William Latorre and Christine Gaylarde continues.

LABS 1 1992 Campos do Jordao, SP, Brazil. Organisers William Latorre and Chris Gaylarde

LABS 2 1995 Gramado, RS, Brazil. Organisers Chris Gaylarde and Robert Thomas

LABS 3 1998 Florianopolis, SC, Brazil. Organisers Tereza Barbosa and Chris Gaylarde

LABS 4 2001 Buenos Aires, Argentina. Organiser Blanca Rosales

LABS 5 2004 Campeche, Mexico. Organiser Otto Ortega-Morales

LABS 6 2007 Bogota, Colombia. Organiser Maria Mercedes Martinez

LABS 7 2009 Quito, Ecuador. Organiser Katty Coral

LABS 8 2013 Porto Alegre, Brazil. Organiser Fatima Bento

LABS 9 2016 Rio de Janiero, Brazil. Organiser Maria Lutterbach