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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter June 1, 2005

Survival of bacteria on wood and plastic particles: Dependence on wood species and environmental conditions

  • Annett Milling , Rolf Kehr , Alfred Wulf and Kornelia Smalla
From the journal Holzforschung


The survival of two hygienically relevant bacteria, Escherichia coli pIE639 and Enterococcus faecium, was followed on wooden sawdust of seven different European woods (pine, spruce, larch, beech, maple, poplar, and oak) versus polyethylene chips by using cultivation-dependent and molecular-based methods in parallel. The survival of the bacteria on wood was dependent on various factors such as the wood species, the type of the inoculated bacterium, the ambient temperature, and humidity. The bacterial titre decreased fastest on pine followed by oak compared to the other woods and plastic. Cultivation-independent analysis employing DNA extraction, Southern blot hybridisation, and PCR-based detection of marker genes of the test bacteria confirmed this result. The decline in bacterial numbers correlated with the decrease of bacterial DNA in the samples. Amounts of DNA of E. coli and E. faecium recovered from pine and oak-wood sawdust were generally lower compared to the other woods and plastic.

The presented study shows that pine and oak exhibit substantially better hygienic performance than plastic and indicates an antibacterial effect caused by a combination of the hygroscopic properties of wood and the effect of wood extractives.


Corresponding author. Institute for Plant Virology, Microbiology and Biosafety, Federal Biological Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry (BBA), Messeweg 11/12, 38104 Braunschweig, Germany Tel.: +49 531 299 3814, Fax: +49 531 299 3013


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Published Online: 2005-06-01
Published in Print: 2005-01-01

©2004 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin New York

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