The role of water availability in fungal degradation of lignocellulosic materials

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“We need to increase the use of lignocellulosic materials in all sectors in society, e.g., both as constructionmaterials and as feedstock for the chemical industry. The possiblilty of such an increase is dependent onwhether we can make construction materials more durable by eco-friendly methods, and the lignocellulosicfeedstock easier to degrade in the chemical industry. We belive that water availability is a key to success in boththese areas, and will in this project follow the fungal degradation of a number of different modified woodmaterials that have been modified to different degrees. We will use an array of experimental techniques thatcover different aspects of materials-water-decay relation, for example isothermal calorimetry for a continuousmonitoring of colonization and degradation, and low-field NMR to determine changes in the sizes of differentwater pools during the degradation process. Our main research questions are:1. Which moisture parameter (moisture content, water activity etc.) is most relevant for decay fungi?2. How do lignocellulosic materials – both untreated and modified – change during decay from the point ofview of water availability?3. Is metabolically produced water – in practice, under different conditions – of any importance for decayfungi?4. How is the success of non-toxic wood modifications related to changes in water availability brought aboutby the modification processes?”

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