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Biodeterioration of wood

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Arango, Rachel; Lebow, Stan; Glaeser, Jessie A.

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Chapter 14 in FPL-GTR-282


Under proper conditions, wood will give centuries of service. However, when wood is exposed to conditions that allow the growth of wood-degrading organisms, protection must be provided during processing, merchandising, and use. The organisms that can degrade wood are principally fungi, insects, bacteria, and marine borers. Molds, most sapwood stains, and decay are caused by fungi, which are microscopic, thread-like microorganisms that must have organic material to live. For some of them, wood offers the required food supply. The growth of fungi depends on suitably mild temperatures, moisture, and air (oxygen). Chemical stains, although not caused by organisms, are mentioned in this chapter because they resemble stains caused by fungi.


Fungi; insects; mold; bacteria; marine borers

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Arango, R.; Lebow, S.T.; Glaeser, J.A. 2021. Chapter 14: Biodeterioration of wood. In: Wood handbook—wood as an engineering material. General Technical Report FPL-GTR-282. Madison, WI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory. 19 pp.

Last updated on: March 26, 2021