Monica Fongen

Lead Engineer

(+47) 974 81 706

Ås H8

Visiting address
Høgskoleveien 8, 1433 Ås


Pathogen challenge of tree sapwood induces the formation of reaction zones with antimicrobial properties such as elevated pH and cation content. Many fungi lower substrate pH by secreting oxalic acid, its conjugate base oxalate being a reductant as well as a chelating agent for cations. To examine the role of oxalic acid in pathogenicity of white-rot fungi, we conducted spatial quantification of oxalate, transcript levels of related fungal genes, and element concentrations in heartwood of Norway spruce challenged naturally by Heterobasidion parviporum. In the pathogen-compromised reaction zone, upregulation of an oxaloacetase gene generating oxalic acid coincided with oxalate and cation accumulation and presence of calcium oxalate crystals. The colonized inner heartwood showed trace amounts of oxalate. Moreover, fungal exposure to the reaction zone under laboratory conditions induced oxaloacetase and oxalate accumulation, whereas heartwood induced a decarboxylase gene involved in degradation of oxalate. The excess level of cations in defense xylem inactivates pathogen-secreted oxalate through precipitation and, presumably, only after cation neutralization can oxalic acid participate in lignocellulose degradation. This necessitates enhanced production of oxalic acid by H. parviporum. This study is the first to determine the true influence of white-rot fungi on oxalate crystal formation in tree xylem.


A method for quantitative determination of extractives from heartwood of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) using gas chromatography (GC) with flame ionization detection (FID) was developed. The limit of detection (LOD) was 0.03mg/g wood and the linear range (r=0.9994) was up to 10mg/g with accuracy within ±10% and precision of 18% relative standard deviation. The identification of the extractives was performed using gas chromatography combined with mass spectrometry (GC–MS). The yields of extraction by Soxhlet were tested for solid wood, small particles and fine powder. Small particles were chosen for further analysis. This treatment gave good yields of the most important extractives: pinosylvin, pinosylvin monomethyl ether, resin acids and free fatty acids. The method is used to demonstrate the variation of these extractives across stems and differences in north–south direction.


In recent years chitosans have been investigated as a natural chemical for wood preservation against fungal decay, and chitosan in aqueous solutions has been used in impregnation studies. To evaluate the retention of chitosan after an impregnation process and to evaluate the fixation of chitosan in wood a method for determination of chitosan in wood and water samples has been developed based on acidic hydrolysis of chitosan to glucosamine followed by online derivatization by o-phthalaldehyde, chromatographic separation and fluorescent detection. For wood samples the method was linear up to 45mgg−1 chitosan in wood and had a recovery of 86%. The yield of chitosan in water was 87% at 1%(w/v) concentration.