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This review presents information on the relationship of ultrastructure and composition of wood cell walls, in order to understand how wood degrading bacteria utilise cell wall components for their nutrition. A brief outline of the structure and composition of plant cell walls and the degradation patterns associated with bacterial degradation of wood cell walls precedes the description of the relationship of cell wall micro- and ultrastructure to bacterial degradation of the cell wall. The main topics covered are cell wall structure and composition, patterns of cell wall degradation by erosion and tunnelling bacteria, and the relationship of cell wall ultrastructure and composition to wood degradation by erosion and tunnelling bacteria. Finally, pertinent information from select recent studies employing molecular approaches to identify bacteria which can degrade lignin and other wood cell wall components is presented, and prospects for future investigations on wood degrading bacteria are explored.

In: IAWA Journal