The breakthrough, published today in the Canadian Journal of Forest Research, is the first known use of in vitro culture technology to clone buds of mature American elm trees.
"This research has the potential to bring back the beloved American elm population to North America," said Prof. Praveen Saxena, a plant scientist who worked on the project with Professor Alan Sullivan. Both are from Guelph's Department of Plant Agriculture.
"It may also serve as a model to help propagate and preserve thousands of other endangered plant species at risk of extinction across the globe."
Majestic American elms were among the most popular and recognizable trees in Ontario, lining boulevards and adorning city centres. But more than 95 per cent of the population in Eastern Canada and the United States has now been wiped out by Dutch elm disease.
The imported fungal infection interferes with water transport and stops nutrients from circulating in the tree. Only about one in 100,000 elms may be naturally resistant to the pathogen.
Looking for new techniques to clone and produce resistant trees through micropropagation, the Guelph researchers selected tissue samples from survivors in Ontario, including a century-old elm tree growing on the U of G campus.
"The trees that have survived initial and subsequent epidemics potentially represent an invaluable source of potential disease resistance for future plantings and breeding programs," Saxena said.
After growing genetic copies from the shoot tips and dormant buds, the researchers hope to select germplasm with the desired traits including disease-resistance which will further aid elm breeding and biotechnology programs around the world.
They also perfected a way to conserve germplasm over the long term. A germplasm repository now contains 17 accessions collected from mature elm trees that survived across Ontario.
"Our results demonstrate the usefulness of in vitro technologies for conserving and reintroducing endangered germplasm of economic, social and environment significance," Saxena said.
In vitro conservation technology is highly efficient and better than seed banks for conservation of many plant species, he added. Hundreds of genotypes with known phenotypes can be conserved in a safe small space and can easily be propagated.
The professors worked with Guelph postdoctoral researchers Mukund Shukla and Maxwell Jones; Chunzhao Liu, Professor, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing; and Susan Gosling of the Gosling Foundation.
"We want to conserve and propagate the American elm and many other rare and endangered Canadian native species so that we can start to replace what has been decimated along the way," said Gosling.
Saxena said the team hopes to reintroduce disease-resistant trees. "The need to conserve endangered plant species in provinces such as Ontario where urban sprawl continues is crucial and urgent."
The research was funded by the Gosling Foundation. The Canadian Journal of Forest Research is published by the National Research Council of Canada.
Praveen Saxena | EurekAlert!
How much drought can a forest take?
20.01.2017 | University of California - Davis
Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product
02.12.2016 | Purdue University
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Awards Funding
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences