The attack of naturally durable and creosote treated timbers by Limnoria tripunctata Menzies

IRG/WP 95-10132

A J Pitman, G S Sawyer, G F Daniel

Limnoria tripunctata was found tunnelling in creosote treated Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) pilings and naturally durable greenheart (Ocotea rodiaei) gate seals at two sites on the south coast of the United Kingdom. Examination of thc creosote-treated wood showed that Limnoria tunnels were concentrated at a depth of 2-3 cm from the timber surface, where creosote loading was lower. Fewer tunnels occured in the heavily creosoted outer zone. Sections through Limnoria tunnels in wood fixed on site were examined using the scanning electron microscope (SEM). These studies showed that S2 layers of wood cell walls adjacent to Limnoria tunnels were decayed by tunnelling bacteria in many cases. Examination of greenheart seals showed that Limnoria tunnelled to a depth of 1.5 cm, in the soft-rot decay zone. The heads of the Limnoria tunnels also penetrated "sound" wood to a depth of 2 cm. Examination of sections through Limnoria tunnels showed that wood cells adjacent to tunnels were decayed by both soft-rot fungi and tunnelling bacteria. In addition, a range of prokaryotes and protoctists were attached to tunnel walls in this instance. The size of bitemarks along the tunnel walls suggested Limnoria would ingest a range of these micro-organisms along with the wood substrate. Gut contents of Limnoria fixed at both sites were screened for microorganisms using the SEM. This study failed to show micro-organisms on the surface of wood particles during gut transit, which suggested that ingested microbes were digested by Limnoria.


Conference: 95-05-11/16 Helsingør; Denmark

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