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US Forest Service Research & Development
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  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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Research Highlights

Individual Highlight

Scientists Find the Achilles' Heel of Wood Fungi Tolerance to Preservatives

The brown rot fungus Fibroporia radiculosa is very tolerant to copper. Steve Schmieding, Forest ServiceSnapshot : Inhibiting the enzymatic pathway in copper tolerant brown rot fungi can block its tolerance of commercial wood preservatives

Principal Investigators(s) :
Jenkins, Katie 
Research Location : FPL
Research Station : Forest Products Laboratory (FPL)
Year : 2012
Highlight ID : 24

Summary

Up to 80 percent of commercial wood preservatives contain copper in one form or another to inhibit decay and termite damage, yet most brown rot decay fungi can circumvent the effects of copper. Researchers studied enzymatic activity in these fungi looking for ways to prevent their copper tolerance, thereby saving the taxpayers time and money for replacement of wood decking and lumber treated with copper-based preservatives.

Commercial wood preservatives contain copper in one form or another to inhibit decay and termite damage, but most brown rot decay fungi can circumvent the effect of copper by production of oxalic acid and precipitation of the copper. The enzymatic activity of major enzymes in the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle and the glyoxylate (GLOX) cycle were quantified to determine the primary pathway of oxalic acid production in economically important wood decay fungi.

Analysis of the peak activities revealed a previously undescribed pathway using an enzymatic shunt between the two major cycles. Sharply targeted inhibition of this shunt may prevent production of oxalic acid and any tolerance to copper containing preservatives exhibited by brown-rot fungi.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • Susan V. Diehl, Mississippi State University

Research Topics

Priority Areas

  • Resource Management and Use
  • Climate Change