It is known that active peroxidase isozymes exist in mature wood of Norway spruce (Picea abies L. Karst.) and that they remain active for years and are found even in the heartwood (in Scots pine), where all cellular activity has ceased. This peroxidase activity was utilised in the impregnation of wood blocks with a natural monolignol, coniferyl alcohol and hydrogen peroxide. The hypothesis was that the internal wood peroxidases would oxidise the added monolignol and bind it stably into the cell wall matrix, which could hinder fungal decay. Since coniferyl alcohol is not very soluble in water, the impregnation was done under vacuum with an acetone–water solution containing 10% coniferyl alcohol and 0.4 mM H2O2 at room temperature (ca. 0.02 g of coniferyl alcohol was added to 1 g of wood). After impregnation, dimers of coniferyl alcohol and free coniferyl alcohol were found in acetone extracts with GC–MS analysis. Penetration of coniferyl alcohol and non-extractable reaction products were studied from the wood blocks with FTIR PAS technique. The wood samples treated were also subjected to a fungal decay test with Coriolus versicolor. This treatment hindered fungal decay in a 60-day experiment and led to a dry weight loss of 8.8% in comparison with 19.9% in the control. The reactions of coniferyl alcohol and H2O2 in the presence of peroxidases are discussed as well as the use of monolignols to increase wood decay resistance.
- coniferyl alcohol
- decay resistance