LOCAL FUNGI-RELATED ISSUES

Some mycological or other fungi-related issues are of particular importance for this country,
which is rich in forests and wooden buildings, has strong mushroom-hunting traditions etc.
This chapter deals with only few of them, which could represent some interest to foreigners.

 

Building-eaters

The true dry rot fungus (Serpula lacrymans) is the most dangerous fungus in buildings, which causes substantial damages for wooden structures in Europe and elsewhere worldwide. S. lacrymans is also widely spread in Latvia, which is testified by numerous inhabitants’ complaints about the dry rot attacks. The humid and rather cool summers are especially beneficial for development of the fungus. According to our data, the dry rot attacks in Latvia’s buildings make up 40% from the whole registered cases of house fungi. The maximum of cases is commonly observed from March to September. In buildings, the fungus is mostly found in the floors, doorposts or wooden walls under the plaster.

Photo by Bruno Andersons Photo by Bruno Andersons
   
Fruiting body of Serpula lacrymans.
To enlarge the image, click here.
New, cottony mycelium and strands of 
S. lacrymans on a mortar wall in cellar.
To enlarge the image, click here.
 
Photo by Bruno Andersons
 

Above: Svente estate (19th century, Daugavpils district) in 1999. The building housed a school, that was moved to a new premise around 1990, leaving the estate abandoned for a long time. Over a decade, S. lacrymans had widely spread throughout the building.

Left: Hyphae of Serpula lacrymans inside the pine tracheid lumen (scanning electron microscopy).

Photo by Urve Kallavus

The dry rot is especially dangerous due to the capability with the mycelium and strands to expand from a moist wood and colonise further the relatively dry wood (20-30%), as well as to penetrate through the inert materials (mortar or plaster). Under favourable conditions, S. lacrymans expands rapidly in buildings, and the material losses caused by it can double every year. The fungus may cause severe material and moral losses not only to the buildings’ owners, but also the society in general, by causing the damage to cultural historical heritage.

© Latvian State Institute of Wood Chemistry,
Laboratory of wood protection and emission from wood based products

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