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Individual Highlight

A Knowledge-based Approach for Developing Green Building Solutions

Photo of Board treated with copper-based preservatives showing premature signs of rot caused by copper-tolerant brown rot fungi. USDA Forest ServiceBoard treated with copper-based preservatives showing premature signs of rot caused by copper-tolerant brown rot fungi. USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : Scientists are using gene discovery to accelerate their understanding of copper tolerance in wood decay fungi and create green solutions for wood protection.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Tang, Juliet D. 
Research Location : Starkville, Mississippi
Research Station : Forest Products Laboratory (FPL)
Year : 2015
Highlight ID : 910

Summary

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.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • Andy Perkins Mississippi State University Computer Science and Engineering
  • Darrel Nicholas Mississippi State University Sustainable Bioproducts
  • Steven Schroeder USDA ARS Bovine Functional Genomics Laboratory
  • Susan Diehl Mississippi State University Sustainable Bioproducts
  • Tad Sonstegard USDA ARS Bovine Functional Genomics Laboratory

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