Fungal degradation of softwood cell walls: enhanced insight through micromechanical modeling

Wagner, L., Bader, T.K., Eberhardsteiner, J. and De Borst, K. (2014) Fungal degradation of softwood cell walls: enhanced insight through micromechanical modeling. International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation, 93, pp. 223-234. (doi:10.1016/j.ibiod.2014.05.010)

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Abstract

Fungal degradation is among the greatest hazards for standing trees as well as timber constructions. Herein we aim at gaining more detailed insight into the degradation strategies of wood destroying fungi and the consequences on the mechanical performance of wood. At the macroscale, the occurring losses of mass and of mass density mask effects of altered chemical composition and microstructure. Thus, it is necessary to step down the hierarchical organization of wood to the cell wall scale in order to resolve these changes and their mechanical impact. We present a multiscale micromechanical model which is used to estimate the stiffnesses of the S2 cell wall layer and the compound middle lamella of fungal degraded wood. Data from a detailed chemical, microstructural and micromechanical characterization of white rot and brown rot degraded Scots pine sapwood is analyzed. Comparing predicted cell wall stiffnesses with measured ones confirms the suitability of the approach. The model enables to establish structure–stiffness relationships for fungal degraded wood cell walls and to test hypotheses on yet unknown effects of fungal decay. The latter include the evolution of porosity, modifications of the cell wall polymers resulting in changes of their stiffnesses, as well as increasing cell wall crystallinity. The model predictions in general showed good agreement with the predictions not considering pores in the cell wall. However, this finding does not rule out the formation of porosity. Other degradation related effects like modifications of the cell wall polymers as well as increased crystallinity have the potential to account for stiffness decreases upon the formation of pores.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:De Borst, Dr Karin
Authors: Wagner, L., Bader, T.K., Eberhardsteiner, J., and De Borst, K.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering
Journal Name:International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0964-8305
ISSN (Online):1879-0208

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