Protection mechanisms of modified wood against decay by white and brown rot fungi
C Mai, P Verma, Yanjun Xie, J Dyckmans, H Militz
The resistance of beech and pine wood blocks treated with 1,3-dimethylol-4,5-dihydroxyethylene urea (DMDHEU) against T. versicolor and C. puteana increased with increasing WPG. Full protection (mass loss below 3%) was reached at WPGs of approximately 15% (beech) and 10% (pine). Metabolic activity of the fungi in the wood blocks was assessed as heat or energy production determined by isothermal micro-calorimetry. Fungal activity in the wood decreased with increasing WPG. Still, activity was detected even in wood blocks of highest WPG and showed that the treatment was not toxic to the fungi.
The infiltration of untreated and DMDHEU-treated wood blocks with nutrients and thiamine prior to fungal incubation did not result in an increased mass loss caused by the fungi. This shows that the destruction or removal of nutrients and vitamins during the modification process has no influence on fungal decay.
In order to study the effect of cell wall bulking and increased surface area, the cell wall integrity was partly destroyed by milling and the decay of the fine wood flour was compared to that of wood mini-blocks. The mass losses caused by the fungi, however, also decreased with increasing WPG and showed comparable patterns like in the case of mini-blocks.To study the effect of the chemical change of cell wall polymers, cellulose was treated with DMDHEU and the product was subjected to hydrolysis by a cellulase preparation. The release of sugar during the incubation was clearly reduced as compared to untreated cellulose. Pre-treatment of modified cellulose with Fenton’s reagent increased the amount of released sugar due to the cellulase activity. Pine micro-veneers were subjected to Fenton’s reagents in acetate buffer over 48h. While untreated specimens and veneers treated with low DMDHEU concentration displayed strong and steady tensile strength loss, veneers treated to a higher WPG did hardly show tensile strength loss.