Biodegradation of wood in wet environments: A review
A P Singh, Yoon Soo Kim
Wood in wet environments is attacked and degraded by soft rot fungi and erosion and tunnelling bacteria, which are more tolerant to high moisture and reduced oxygen conditions than basidiomycetes, such as white and brown rot fungi. Since basidiomycetes are normally more aggressive and can degrade wood faster than soft rot fungi and bacteria wood in wet environments can survive longer. In fact, archaeological investigations have shown that wood buried deep in ocean sediments have survived relatively intact for hundreds and even thousands of years. In this review degradation patterns of various types of microbial wood decay have been briefly described, and then examples of decay type(s) present in wood exposed in various wet environments are presented. Concluding remarks emphasise the importance of understanding the relationship between the conditions of wet environments and the biological wood decay present for prolonging the life of wood in service and properly restoring wooden artefacts of historical value.