Changes in pore structure and cell wall volume in wood decayed by brown- and white-rot fungi
D S Flournoy
Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua L.) wood blocks were decayed by Postia (=Poria) placenta or Phanerochaete chrysosporium in soil-block cultures. Decay was terminated at various weight losses, and the pore volumes available to probes of various molecular weight and diameter were determined by the solute exclusion technique (Stone, J.E. and A.M. Scallan. 1968. Cellulose Chem. Technol. 2, 343-358.). The volume in sound (undecayed) wood that was accessible to the probes varied from 1.0 ml g-1 for the largest to 1.35 ml g-1 for water. Thus, the volume in sound wood attributable to cell wall was 0.35 ml g-1. In brown-rotted samples, the volume of pores in the cell wall increased steadily to 0.7 ml g-1at 35% weight loss. New cell wall volume was accessible to low molecular weight probes but not to molecules of Mr ³ 6,000. Within experimental error, no pores of > 20Å were observed in sound wood or >38Å in brown-rotted wood. Most of the new cell wall volume create by rermoval of components during decay was in the pore size range of 12Å to 38Å. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that the initial depolymerization of cellulose, characteristic of brown rot, is caused by a diffusible agent. The molecular diameter of the agent is apparently in the range 12Å to 38Å and it causes erosion and thus enlargement of the pores to which it has access. In the white-rotted wood, cell wall volume increased to 0.6 ml g-1 at 40% weight loss and maximum pore diameter increased to 50Å. Most of the cell wall volume increase resulted from the creation of pore of 20-50Å diameter. Analysis of loss of major wood components as a function of weight loss revealed that lignin, cellulose, and hemicellulose were removed at approximately equal rates. Under our experimental conditions, ligninolytic enzymes have access to only a small portion of the new cell wall volume, even after extensive decay.