Ultrastructure of degraded, CCA-treated Pinus radiata wood from a marine pile
A P Singh, M E Hedley
During an inspection of marine piles, 12 years after installation, severe degradation was noted on one of them in the vicinity of a corroded eye-bolt. The wood was dark brown in colour and tended to crumble easily. Wood fragments were examined by light microscopy and scanning and transmission electron microscopy and were also analysed for carbohydrates and lignin. Light microscopy showed numerous cracks in tracheid walls resulting in delamination at middle lamella - S1 and S1 - S2 junctures and also in fractures across the tracheid wall. Chemical analysis showed extensive losses in hemicelluloses and also losses in cellulose. Observations with polarised light microscopy supported the data from chemical analysis on cellulose degradation. Although presence of microbial flora in the lumen of wood cells was revealed by scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy showed only occasional soft rot decay zones in the S2 layer. We suggest that the degradation of Pinus radiata wood cell wall is primarily due to chemical attack, fungal decay playing a minor role.