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Mode of action of brown rot decay resistance in modified wood: a review

  • Rebecka Ringman EMAIL logo , Annica Pilgård , Christian Brischke und Klaus Richter
Aus der Zeitschrift Holzforschung


Chemically or physically modified wood materials have enhanced resistance to wood decay fungi. In contrast to treatments with traditional wood preservatives, where the resistance is caused mainly by the toxicity of the chemicals added, little is known about the mode of action of nontoxic wood modification methods. This study reviews established theories related to resistance in acetylated, furfurylated, dimethylol dihydroxyethyleneurea-treated, and thermally modified wood. The main conclusion is that only one theory provides a consistent explanation for the initial inhibition of brown rot degradation in modified wood, that is, moisture exclusion via the reduction of cell wall voids. Other proposed mechanisms, such as enzyme nonrecognition, micropore blocking, and reducing the number of free hydroxyl groups, may reduce the degradation rate when cell wall water uptake is no longer impeded.

Corresponding author: Rebecka Ringman, SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden, Wood Technology, Box 857, SE-501 15 Borås, Sweden, e-mail:

The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support from The Swedish Research Council Formas 213-2011-1481 and Gry Alfredsen for useful discussions.


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Received: 2013-4-2
Accepted: 2013-7-23
Published Online: 2013-08-15
Published in Print: 2014-02-01

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