The business side of managing America's forests demands efficient use of the nation’s timber resources by extending the life of wood-in-service. Most wood protection systems for outdoor construction are copper-based, meaning they combine copper with a broad spectrum co-biocide. (Biocides, such as pesticides, destroy life through poisening.) Although these wood preservatives generally perform well, premature failure of the treated wood has been attributed to a select group of brown rot fungi that are copper-tolerant. One aspect of research at the Forest Service’s Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisc., is aimed at improving wood protection by developing selective co-biocides that act synergistically with copper to target and inhibit copper-tolerant fungi. The advantage of this type of wood protection system is reduced environmental impact. Theoretically, the same level of performance can be achieved with less copper and less co-biocide, while off-target species can escape toxicity. Basic research using high throughput DNA sequencing has led to the discovery of about 60 genes that could serve as targets to improve copper-based wood protection systems. Forest Service scientists are now using this knowledge to find and test small molecule inhibitors that have the potential to be more environmentally friendly treatment formulations for wood protection.