by M Baietto, AD Wilson, D Bassi, F Ferrini
Tree failure in urban areas is a critical issue for management as it has serious consequences for public safety. Wood-rotting fungi are a particular concern because they can weaken the wood within a tree without showing any outward signs of damage, leading to limb or tree failure during storms. Traditional methods of assessment are invasive and expensive while also not being very accurate. In this study, three brands of “electronic noses” (e-noses) were tested to determine their ability to distinguish healthy wood from wood that was inoculated with fungi, based on emissions of volatile organic compounds. All three were able to distinguish healthy from decayed wood under laboratory conditions. The authors suggest ways to improve the performance and discuss limitations applying this technology in the field.