An ultrastructural and cytochemical investigation of the development of Phellinus noxius, a white-rot fungus, in wood chips of Betula papyrifera was done to gain insight into the cellular mechanisms of wood cell wall degradation. Extracellular sheaths and microhyphae were seen to be involved in wood colonization. Close association was observed between these fungal structures and wood cell walls at both early and advanced stages of wood alteration. Fungal sheaths were often seen deep inside host cell walls, sometimes enclosing residual wood fragments. Investigations using gold probes indicated the occurrence of β-1,3-glucans within the fungal sheaths, while β-1,4-glucans were detected only within the fungal septa. The positive reaction with the PATAg test revealed that polysaccharides such as β-1,6-glucans were important components of the sheath. Chitin, pectin, β-glucosides, galactosamine, mannose, sialic acid, fucose, and fimbrial proteins were not found to be present in the sheath. Our data suggest that extracellular sheaths and microphyphae produced by P. noxius during wood cell wall colonization play an important role in wood degradation.
- Wood degradation