Investigations of biodeterioration by fungi in historic wooden churches of Chiloé, Chile.

Rodrigo Ortiz, Mario Párraga, José Navarrete, Ivo Carrasco, Eduardo de la Vega, Manuel Ortiz, Paula Herrera, Joel A. Jurgens, Benjamin W. Held, Robert A. Blanchette

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The use of wood in construction has had a long history and Chile has a rich cultural heritage of using native woods for building churches and other important structures. In 2000, UNESCO designated a number of the historic churches of Chiloé, built entirely of native woods, as World Heritage Sites. These unique churches were built in the late 1700 s and throughout the 1800 s, and because of their age and exposure to the environment, they have been found to have serious deterioration problems. Efforts are underway to better understand these decay processes and to carryout conservation efforts for the long-term preservation of these important structures. This study characterized the types of degradation taking place and identified the wood decay fungi obtained from eight historic churches in Chiloé, seven of them designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites. Micromorphological observations identified white, brown and soft rot in the structural woods and isolations provided pure cultures of fungi that were identified by sequencing of the internal transcribed region of rDNA. Twenty-nine Basidiomycota and 18 Ascomycota were found. These diverse groups of fungi represent several genera and species not previously reported from Chile and demonstrates a varied microflora is causing decay in these historic buildings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)568-575
Number of pages8
JournalMicrobial ecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2014

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