Advancing climate change is affecting the health and vitality of forests in many parts of the world. Europe is currently facing spruce bark beetle outbreaks, which are most often caused by wind disturbances, hot summers, or lack of rainfall and are having a massive economic impact on the forestry sector. The aim of this research article was to summarize current scientific knowledge about the structure and physical and mechanical properties of wood from bark beetle-attacked trees. Spruce stands are attacked by a number of beetles, of which Ips typographus
is the most common and widespread in Central Europe. When attacking a tree, bark beetles introduce ophiostomatoid fungi into the tree, which then have a greater effect on the properties of the wood than the beetles themselves. Fungal hyphae grow through the lumina of wood cells and spread between individual cells through pits. Both white rot and brown rot fungi are associated with enzymatic degradation of lignin or holocellulose, which is subsequently reflected in the change of the physical and mechanical properties of wood. Wood-decay fungi that colonize wood after infestation of a tree with bark beetles can cause significant changes in the structure and properties of the wood, and these changes are predominantly negative, in the form of reducing modulus of rupture, modulus of elasticity, discolouration, or, over time, weight loss. In certain specific examples, a reduction in energy consumption for the production of wood particles from beetle-attacked trees, or an increase in surface free energy due to wood infestation by staining fungi in order to achieve better adhesion of paints or glues, can be evaluated positively.
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