Growth of Fomes annosus under Reduced Oxygen Pressure and the Effect of Carbon Dioxide


ALTHOUGH most fungi are regarded as strictly aerobic organisms, some species—under natural conditions—are known to colonize in localities which a priori must be expected to offer only poor supplies of free oxygen. This is the case with fungi attacking the interior of roots and stems of living trees. Owing to respiration in the living tissues of these organs, free oxygen dissolved in the water of vessels in sapwood and heartwood or present as free gas in intercellular spaces and non-functioning vessels is soon consumed. Concomitantly carbon dioxide is liberated. Diffusion of gases within a tree trunk probably occurs by the shortest distance, namely, by horizontal diffusion from the outside through the cortex into the interior of the stem and vice versa. However, in warm seasons when respiration-rate is high the very active cambium enclosing the central wood of a stem offers a barrier to the diffusion of gases in either direction1. Consequently as oxygen is consumed by living cells (medullary ray cells, parenchyma cells) in the sapwood the oxygen pressure will drop rapidly in the interior and be kept at a low level until diffusion is again made possible by a decrease in temperature.

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  1. 1

    Goodwin, R. H., and Goddard, D. R., Amer. J. Bot., 27, 234 (1940).

  2. 2

    Chase, W. W., Minnesota Agric. Exp. Sta. Tech. Bull., 99 (1934).

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GUNDERSEN, K. Growth of Fomes annosus under Reduced Oxygen Pressure and the Effect of Carbon Dioxide. Nature 190, 649 (1961).

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