What are native microorganisms

Microbiomes on African imported wood: Neobiotic fungi and bacteria

Microbiomes on African imported wood: Neobiotic fungi and bacteria

Which organism communities come to us with African imported wood, how do they differ from communities that occur on native wood and what potential damage could be caused by imported fungi and bacteria for native wood and trees, should they establish themselves with us - also taking climate change into account ?

Background and purpose

Dead wood from dead, fallen or felled trees is successively broken down and ultimately transformed into humus. This process plays a key role in regulating the carbon and nutrient cycle in forests. Fungi and bacteria make the largest share of this, but they not only decompose dead wood in forests, but also - if the environmental conditions are favorable for them - attack wood used in buildings.

After the trees have been felled, bacteria and fungi immediately colonize the wood and the degradation process begins. The longer the logs lie unprocessed after felling and are en route, the further this process progresses. By importing unprocessed logs, the adhering microorganisms are also brought into the country.

Around 8-9 million cubic meters of round wood are imported into Germany every year. Trunk goods from tropical regions practically only come from Africa, because there the further processing of the raw goods by a wood processing industry has not yet reached the standard, as for example in the wood exporting countries of Asia.

The aim of the investigations is to identify the wood-degrading species on imported African wood and to compare them with the species occurring on native wood in order to identify potentially neobiotic species and assess their potential for damage.


In order to determine the composition of the community consisting of fungi and bacteria that occur on African imported wood and to compare it with the communities that occur in our latitudes on native wood, certain DNA areas of the entire biome are determined using the next generation sequencing method (NGS) sequenced. The species are then determined by comparing the sequence data obtained with existing databases for fungi and bacteria.

At the same time, it is investigated how these communities develop under local climatic conditions and how the chances of survival of tropical fungi and bacteria would appear under changed climatic conditions. For this purpose, woods are exposed in the open air, in the climatic chamber and in the greenhouse for longer periods and changes in the species composition are documented.

Our research questions

How do the communities of wood-degrading organisms on African tropical wood differ from those on native woods?

Do these communities differ between different types of wood and areas of origin?

How do these tropical communities develop under local climatic conditions?

Can individual species from these communities also break down indigenous wood as a neobiota?

Is a spread of neobiotic fungi and bacteria to be expected with special consideration of climate change?

Preliminary results

It has already been possible to identify tropical mushrooms that were imported with the raw wood. The first results of the biome comparisons can be expected in the second half of 2018.

Th√ľnen contact person


8.2017 - 7.2021

Further project data

Project type:
Project status: running