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Major buried and waterlogged wooden objects of cultural heritage have been found to suffer from microbial deterioration to varying degrees, resulting mainly from attacks by bacteria that cause erosion and tunneling of cell walls and fungi causing soft rot of wood. The brief overview presented here describes micromorphological features associated with the different microbial decay patterns observed in such wooden objects, recognizing the important role electron microscopy has played in elucidating the characteristic ultrastructural features of degraded cell walls, which have formed the basis for clearly differentiating fungal soft rot, bacterial erosion and bacterial tunneling from each other. The detailed information available on the fine texture of degraded wood tissues at the level of cell wall is proving helpful in developing appropriate methods for conserving treasured wooden cultural heritage objects.
Keywords : Bacterial erosion, Bacterial tunneling, Buried and waterlogged environments, Cell wall degradation, Conservation, Microbial deterioration, Soft rot, Wooden objects of cultural heritage