Wood products play a major role in the economy of Mississippi and other regions in the U.S. and are used extensively by its citizens. Although wood is an excellent building material, it is highly susceptible to biodegradation which results in the destruction of an equivalent of one-tenth of the forest products produced annually. This annual loss would be considerably greater if preservative treated wood was not used in many applications. However, because of environmental issues and perceived toxicity problems associated with the major wood preservatives used today there is a need to develop new preservative systems that exhibit low mammalian toxicity and also are environmentally benign. Although microorganism activities can be detrimental, there is also a positive side because some of these mechanisms can be beneficially applied in bio-industrial processing in the forest product industry. Specific examples are the possible use of microorganisms and their enzymatic systems for biopulping and biobleaching processes, the discovery of unique organisms or microbial processes for biomass conversion to fuel or products, and bio-treatment of contaminated wastewater, air and other forest products industrial emissions. Both fundamental and applied research is needed in these areas to fully develop the potential of these applications. Scientists at the Lucas Laboratory will team up with other MSU departments, industry, or universities and Federal labs to develop improved methods for controlling biodeterioration of wood products and viable biological processes that can be used by the forest products industry.

To be a leading and recognized force in the development of environmentally friendly methods for understanding and controlling the biodeterioration of wood products.

To acquire and advance fundamental and applied understanding of the complex process of wood biodeterioration in order to extend and protect wood products and exploit these natural processes for industrial biomass application and utilization.