Cellular level distributions of Scots pine heartwood and knot heartwood extractives revealed by Raman spectroscopy imaging

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Research units

  • Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich
  • Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa)


Wood extractives are biologically active secondary metabolites that help protect wood and wood products from decay and other forms of biological attack. Despite the influence of distribution on their ability to protect wood, very few studies have investigated the distributions of extractives on a cellular level. In this paper, the distributions of extractives were studied in Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) heartwood (HW) and knot heartwood by confocal Raman spectroscopy imaging. Pinosylvins, the antifungal phenolic extractives of pine, were found to be present in the cell walls, middle lamella, and lumina of tracheids. Their distribution suggested the existence of two different mechanisms of deposition and revealed similarities to the distribution of lignin. The potential binding of pinosylvins to lignin and their relatively low concentration in HW cell walls could explain why Scots pine HW is, on average, only moderately resistant to decay. Resin acids, the most abundant group of extractives in pine, were detected only within the lumina of tracheids and ray cells, where they may contribute to the reduced permeability of HW. The extractives distributions presented here help us understand the properties of HW and provide a deeper understanding of the origins of natural durability, which is of value in the current efforts to develop more environmentally friendly means of wood protection.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-335
Number of pages9
JournalIndustrial Crops and Products
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Research areas

  • Extractives, Heartwood, Imaging, Pinosylvin, Raman spectroscopy, Scots pine

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