The use of chitosan in protecting wooden artifacts from damage by mold fungi
Background: Many buildings in Egypt e.g. museums, mosques and churches, do not possess controlled environments for minimizing the risks of damage of wooden artifacts due to the growth of fungi. Fungal damage usually appears as change in wood color, appearance of stains, and sometimes deformation of wooden surfaces. In this study we focused on the effect that some fungi exert on the properties of wooden artifacts and evaluated the effectiveness of different concentrations of chitosan on their protection against damage by mold fungi. Results: Samples were collected from different monuments and environments, and fungi growing on them were isolated and identified. The isolated Penicillium chrysogenum, Aspergillus flavus and /Aspergillus niger strains were used for the infestation of new pitch pine samples. The results revealed that the lightness of samples infected with any of the tested fungi decreased with increasing incubation times. XRD analysis showed that the crystallinity of incubated samples treated individually with the different concentrations of chitosan was lower than the crystallinity of infected samples. The crystallinity index measured by the first and the second method decreased after the first and second months but increased after the third and fourth months. This may due to the reducing of amorphous part by enzymes or acids produced by fungi in wooden samples. Conclusions: The growth of fungi on the treated wood samples decreased with increasing the concentration of chitosan. Hence, it was demonstrated that chitosan prevented fungal growth, and its use could be recommended for the protection of archeological wooden artifacts.