Skip to main content


Official Journal of the Japan Wood Research Society

Journal of Wood Science Cover Image
We’d like to understand how you use our websites in order to improve them. Register your interest.

Microscopic observation of wood-based composites exposed to fungal deterioration


This study was conducted to investigate the susceptibility of various wood composite panels exposed to wood-deteriorating fungi. Five wood-attacking fungi (three mold fungi, one brown rot fungus, one white rot fungus) were inoculated into four types of commercial wood composite panels (plywood, oriented strand board, particleboard, and medium-density fiberboard). One solid wood sample was included as a control. The attacking patterns of the fungi in each panel was observed by scanning electron microscopy. The weight losses due to the exposure were compared. All wood composites were more or less susceptible to all fungi inoculated. The attacking mode of the fungi was highly dependent on the types of wood composite, which had inherently different shapes of voids owing to different shapes and characteristics of the raw furnish materials used. Plywood and medium-density fiberboard showed a large weight loss after an 8-week exposure to decay fungi. Plywood is the most susceptible to white and brown rot fungi. This study indicates that all wood composite panels should undergo careful consideration to prevent fungal deterioration when they are used for exterior and humid interior applications.


  1. 1.

    Adair C (1996) OSB Outlook to the year 2000: mills, markets, and opportunities. In: Christiansen AW, Conner AH (eds) Wood adhesives. Forest Products Society, Madison. WI, pp. 9–13

  2. 2.

    Merrill W, French DW, Hossfeld RL (1965) Effects of common molds on physical and chemical properties of wood fiberboard. TAPPI 48:470–474

  3. 3.

    Behr EA, Wittrup BA (1969) Decay and termite resistance of two species particle board. Holzforschung 23(5):166–170

  4. 4.

    Behr EA (1972) Decay and termite resistance of medium-density fiberboards made from wood residue. For Prod J 22(12):48–51

  5. 5.

    Wang Q (1992) Wood based boards: response to attack by mold and stain fungi. PhD dissertation, Sveriges Lantbruksuniversitet, Uppsala, Sweden, pp. 1–26

  6. 6.

    American Society for Testing and Materials (1971) Standard method for accelerated laboratory test of natural decay resistance of woods. ASTM D-2017, Philadelphia

  7. 7.

    Highley TL, Illman BL (1991) Progress in understanding how brown rot fungi degrade cellulose. Biodet Abstr 5:231–244

  8. 8.

    Scheffer TC (1973) Microbiological degradation and the causal organisms. In: Nicholas DD (ed) Wood deterioration and its prevention by preservative treatment, vol. 1, Syracuse University Press, Syracuse, New York

Download references

Author information



Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Chung, W., Wi, S., Bae, H. et al. Microscopic observation of wood-based composites exposed to fungal deterioration. J Wood Sci 45, 64–68 (1999).

Download citation

Key words

  • Wood composite
  • Medium-density fiberboard
  • Oriented strand board
  • Plywood
  • Particleboard
  • Fungi: mold, brown rot, white rot