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Decay fungi and termite resistance in plantation-grown heartwood … two key Centre for Timber Durability and Design Life projects

In this article, we explore two current projects led by the FWPA-supported Centre for Timber Durability and Design Life, highlighted by new Director Professor Tripti Singh as being particularly exciting and significant during a recent chat. Article on Professor Tripti Singh’s first few months as Director of the Centre for Timber Durability and Design Life here.

Decay fungi research nears completion

After three years, the Centre for Timber Durability and Design Life’s high-throughput DNA sequencing project at the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) Maroochy Field Station, led by centre PhD student Linda Moss, is nearing completion.

The process has been a laborious one, involving the development of methods for isolating intact DNA from the multitude of wood species, then replicating this material, before sequencing the DNA ready for comparison with various DNA databases.

Moss sorted through tens of thousands of possible fungi to identify those of interest, particularly those with the potential to cause wood staining or decay. She is now at the stage of examining the fungal communities that develop in wood exposed at the Maroochy Field Station site.

Understanding the fungi present at a given site on a specific wood species has the potential to be used to identify decay patterns, determine which fungi are most dominant and, in the case of preservatives, identify potentially tolerant organisms that might be useful in screening tests for new preservatives.

This is the first time work of this nature has been attempted in Australia, and should provide a blueprint for future fungi site characterisation.

Assessing termite resistance of fast-grown plantation heartwood timber species

With changing government policies, there have been recent restrictions around the harvesting of native durable timber.

While plantation-grown species are expected to replace these resources there are questions relating to whether timber sourced from these trees will have the same resistance to decay and termite damage as native forest materials.

As part of his work at the centre, Scott Kleinschmidt collaborated with Dr Rob McGavin, Research Facility & Project Manager at DAF, to assess a new technique that uses positionally tracked peeled veneer from logs to assess variations in termite resistance in plantation-grown durable hardwoods. This method could allow for more precise assessment of their heartwood durability.

Kleinschmidt was presented with the coveted Viance Innovation Award (VIA) during the recent International Research Group (IRG) on Wood Protection annual meeting, during which he presented the details of his work.

This award is given for the most innovative poster or oral presentation at each IRG meeting, so congratulations to Scott!

Posted Date: November 1, 2023

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