Soft-Rot Capabilities of the Major Microfungi, Isolated from Douglas-Fir Poles in the Northeast

Robert A. Zabel, C. J. K. Wang, Susan E. Anagnost


Four hundred seventeen fungi were isolated from 144 of the 163 Douglas-fir poles (ages 7 to 17 years and treatments CCA, penta and oil, or CellonĀ®) sampled from transmission lines or storage piles in New York and Pennsylvania. Microfungi predominated and comprised nearly 85% of all isolates. They were isolated primarily from treated zones and were most abundant in older CCA-treated poles in transmission lines. Antrodia carbonica and Postia placenta were the principal basidiomycete decayers and isolated primarily from untreated zones in CCA-treated poles. A limited number of white-rot fungi were isolated from the treated and untreated zones of several poles.

Seven of the 12 principal microfungi were established to have soft-rot capabilities. Soft rot was detected anatomically in 23 of the 144 poles in transmission lines. In most cases it was superficial and limited to several outer annual rings; however, it was severe in older CCA-treated poles and involved all of the treated zone and extended several centimeters radially into the untreated zone. Also, soft rot was detected anatomically and soft-rot fungi culturally, in 8 of 12 13-year-old CCA-treated poles that had been fumigated with Vapam 5 or 6 years previously. None was detected in the fumigated penta-treated poles.

These data suggest that soft-rot fungi play an important role in decay development in the treated groundline zone of utility poles and should be considered in decay detection programs (culturally) and decisions on the timing of remedial treatments.


Decay;soft rot;microfungi;utility poles;Douglas-fir;CCA;penta and oil;basidiomycetes

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