Biodegradation and biodeterioration of wooden heritage: role of fungal succession

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Wood from heritage is usually attacked by wood-decay fungi generating mainly loss of dimensional and structural stability. The study of wood biodegradation process and its mechanism allow the obtaining of tools for wood conservation. In this paper, wood biodegradation and biodeterioration processes were studied in order to acquire a direct and visual indicator of the beginning of wood degradation. This indicator will allow the consolidation and protection of wood before it will be structurally compromised. Wood degradation conditions found in turntable were reproduced in laboratory by accelerated processes: environment degradation was developed by fluctuation cycles of humidity and temperature. Biological degradation was performed using wood decay fungus isolated from wooden heritage samples. The wood samples were inoculated with an equal amount of mycelia until abortive basidiomata emerged. The result analysis indicated that even though each species occupies particular niches, first settlers (environmental fungi) would generate a material more bioreceptive for wood decay fungi being replaced each other as dynamic communities. Consequently, environmental fungi allow the wood decay fungi to colonise and exploit better their ecological niche (succession). It was concluded that the appearance of first settlers is therefore a reliable visual indicator of the need of wood consolidation in order to preventing irreversibly wooden heritage loss.

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