Chemical composition of material extractives influences microbial growth and dynamics on wetted wood materials

Dan Zhao, Cesar Cardona, Neil Gottel, Valerie J. Winton, Paul M. Thomas, Daniel A. Raba, Scott T. Kelley, Christopher Henry, Jack A. Gilbert, Brent Stephens*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The impact of material chemical composition on microbial growth on building materials remains relatively poorly understood. We investigate the influence of the chemical composition of material extractives on microbial growth and community dynamics on 30 different wood species that were naturally inoculated, wetted, and held at high humidity for several weeks. Microbial growth was assessed by visual assessment and molecular sequencing. Unwetted material powders and microbial swab samples were analyzed using reverse phase liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry. Different wood species demonstrated varying susceptibility to microbial growth after 3 weeks and visible coverage and fungal qPCR concentrations were correlated (R2 = 0.55). Aspergillaceae was most abundant across all samples; Meruliaceae was more prevalent on 8 materials with the highest visible microbial growth. A larger and more diverse set of compounds was detected from the wood shavings compared to the microbial swabs, indicating a complex and heterogeneous chemical composition within wood types. Several individual compounds putatively identified in wood samples showed statistically significant, near-monotonic associations with microbial growth, including C11H16O4, C18H34O4, and C6H15NO. A pilot experiment confirmed the inhibitory effects of dosing a sample of wood materials with varying concentrations of liquid C6H15NO (assuming it presented as Diethylethanolamine).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number14500
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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