Visiting Scientist Contributes to Fungal Database

Collaboration brings a wealth of resources to research, and international visiting scientists can often be found working along side permanent researchers at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL).

Dr. Xingxia Ma, Chinese Academy of Forestry

Dr. Xingxia Ma, Chinese Academy of Forestry

One such scientist is Professor Xingxia Ma, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Bejing, China, who recently completed a research sabbatical in the Durability and Wood Protection research unit at FPL.

Dr. Ma’s research included developing comparative decay test methodologies and genetic identification of soil-inhabiting fungi present in laboratory fungal cellar beds.

Fungal cellar beds are a standardized method for accelerated testing of wood and wood-based materials in contact with soil.The soil bed is amended with select fungi that cause brown- and white-rot decay of wood. These fungi are intended to accelerate the rate of decay in wood samples that are embedded in soil tubs; however, the majority of decay observed in soil bed tests is usually a third type of decay called soft-rot. Fungi that cause soft-rot thrive in environments with elevated moisture and high nitrogen content.

Fungal cellar isolates were Sanger-sequenced for genetic identification and entered into FPL’s fungal database. Development of a fungal database was identified as a National priority by members of the wood protection industry.