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Comparative Morphology of Early Stages of Brown-Rot Wood Decay

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Early stages of decay by two brown-rot fungi in two woods were studied by light and scanning electron microscopy. The earliest diagnostic feature to appear was hyphae in the earlywood lumina. The earliest effect on cell walls was the loss of birefringence in the earlywood; Poria placenta (syn. Postia placenta) caused this loss at the earliest stage of decay observed, in both Douglas-fir and white fir, while Gloeophyllum trabeum caused significant weight loss before loss of birefringence was visible. Attack on the latewood progressed from the earlywood, and was different in pattern among the wood/fungus combinations. Hyphal and bore hole diameter increased throughout the early progression of decay and would be useful in evaluating the stage of decay, if the starting diameter of hyphae could be determined. Separation between cells was not observed until moderate stages of decay and, therefore, was not useful in diagnosing early stages of decay.


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