Biotech Updates

U of G Scientists Clone 'Survivor' Elm Trees

April 4, 2012

University of Guelph (U of G) plant scientists have successfully cloned the endangered American elm tree which has survived its best killer, the Dutch elm disease. Profs. Praveen Saxena and Alan Sulivan used in vitro culture to clone buds of mature trees. Once the tree is infected with the pathogen, the water and nutrient transport within the tree is impeded. To date, there are only around 100,000 trees that are naturally resistant to the pathogen. Thus, they are finding ways to clone and produce more resistant trees through micropropagation.

After coming up with genetic copies from the shoots and dormant buds, the researchers plan to choose germplasm with desirable traits such as disease resistance, which will be used in breeding and biotechnology programs around the globe.

"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," Prof. Saxena said.

This study was published in the Canadian Journal of Forest Research.

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