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Forest Products Laboratory
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726-2398
Phone: (608) 231-9200
Fax: (608) 231-9592


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Durability and Wood Protection Research

Project Title :  Sharply Targeted Inhibitors to Protect Wood Products in Service and Prevent Economic and Resource Losses that Result from Biodeterioration
Project Number : FPL-4723-4B
Start Date : 10-01-2012
End Date : 09-30-2017

View the 20 publications associated with this project.

Principal Investigator:
Carol A. Clausen

Non Technical Summary
PhotoAn important limitation to the usefulness of wood, and a prime cause of user dissatisfaction, is its vulnerability to biodeteriorating fungi and insects under certain conditions of storage and use. Efforts to protect wood from biological degradation have successfully reduced the demand for lumber from our National forests by reducing the need to repeatedly replace existing wood products. Targeted protection systems are needed to replace the broad spectrum biocides traditionally used to inhibit decay fungi and termites. Mold growth and its impact on indoor air quality have become an increasingly problematic housing issue despite the fact that mold fungi do not cause structural changes to wood. Airborne spores can cause health problems in human occupants and their presence is indicative of elevated moisture. While there is no substitute for moisture management in a structure, environmentally benign mold inhibitors for surface treatment of dimension lumber or, more importantly, for incorporation into engineered composites need to be developed. Repair costs associated with structural damage caused by Formosan (Coptotermes formosans) and Eastern subterranean (Reticulitermes flavipes) termites and protection measures to prevent termite damage are estimated to be $10 billion annually. Economic losses resulting from the northward spread of both species are projected to grow due to climate change, underscoring the importance of protecting structural building components from this pest through the development of environmentally safe and effective biocides. There are already ecologically important indicators that our changing climate is affecting subterranean termite habitat. An understanding of colony behavior, distribution patterns and characteristics of colony decline will hasten migration mitigation efforts. New techniques for delivering baits that target the colony contradict current methods that rely on repellents and barriers. Targeted baiting is environmentally advantageous as the effective rate of treatment is much lower than conventional methods.

Objectives Summary
New environmentally compatible preservatives will be developed to replace conventional broad-spectrum pesticides. We will develop, test, and validate new evaluation methods based on biochemical properties of decay fungi or mechanical properties of wood. Experimental formulations assessed in laboratory mold, decay, and termite tests will be correlated with field tests.

Approach Summary
Results from studies that reveal the fungal mechanism of preservative tolerance and the termite mechanism of maintaining colony vitality will be used to develop targeted inhibitors that will replace broad spectrum chemical biocides. We will develop a genetic database of microbial activity during the process of wood deterioration that will elucidate the microbial ecology of in vivo biodeterioration in the context of our changing climate. Novel protection methods will incorporate nanotechnology for design and/or controlled delivery of biocides for improved durability of building materials, with an emphasis on engineered composites. Outcomes from foundation research will be used to address protection of wood products from fungal and insect attack in interior applications as well, where air quality and occupant safety are important.

Publications associated with this Project

Publication YearTitleDate Posted
2014Accelerated Colorimetric Micro-assay for Screening Mold Inhibitors03/25/14
2013Antifungal Activity of Heartwood Extracts from Three Juniperus species07/17/13
2012Biological performance of Liquidambar orientalis Mill. heartwood11/06/12
2014Changes in bacterial gut community of Reticulitermes flavipes (Kollar) and Reticulitermes tibialis Banks after feeding on termiticidal bait material07/17/14
2013Colorimetric micro-assay for accelerated screening of mould inhibitors01/18/13
2012Controlling mold on wood Pallets11/14/12
2014Durability and Wood Protection for Historic Covered Bridges in the United States07/18/14
2014E1-09 Termite Choice Testing: What is it good for?03/26/14
2012Enhancing durability of wood-based composites with nanotechnology10/29/13
2012Enzymatic oxalic acid regulation correlated with wood degradation in four brown-rot fungi09/05/13
2012Evaluating the Mechanism of Oxalate Synthesis of Fibroporia Radiculosa Isolates Adapting to Copper-Tolerance07/25/14
2013Image analysis for mould and sapstain detection on wood06/26/13
2014Innovations in Wood Protection in the age of Nanotechnology03/28/14
2014Is there a role for termite alates in colony expansion in Wisconsin?07/17/14
2014Mechanisms of Termite Spread in Wisconsin and Potential Consequences as a Result of Changing Climate Trends03/25/14
2013Performance Characteristics of Borate Fatty Acid Formulations as Mold Inhibitors05/29/13
2013Removal of nano- and micronized-copper from treated wood by chelating agents06/26/13
2013Synergy of Diflubenzuron Baiting and NHA Dusting on Mortality of Reticulitermes flavipes09/30/14
2014The effects of copper proximity on oxalate production in Fibroporia radiculosa07/18/14
2014Wood Protection Research Council: Research Priorities 201308/29/14

Project Summaries last modified: 12-09-2014