, Volume 26, Issue 7, pp 977-987
Date: 20 Feb 2007

Transgenic American elm shows reduced Dutch elm disease symptoms and normal mycorrhizal colonization

Abstract

The American elm (Ulmus americana L.) was once one of the most common urban trees in eastern North America until Dutch-elm disease (DED), caused by the fungus Ophiostoma novo-ulmi, eliminated most of the mature trees. To enhance DED resistance, Agrobacterium was used to transform American elm with a transgene encoding the synthetic antimicrobial peptide ESF39A, driven by a vascular promoter from American chestnut. Four unique, single-copy transgenic lines were produced and regenerated into whole plants. These lines showed less wilting and significantly less sapwood staining than non-transformed controls after O. novo-ulmi inoculation. Preliminary observations indicated that mycorrhizal colonization was not significantly different between transgenic and wild-type trees. Although the trees tested were too young to ensure stable resistance was achieved, these results indicate that transgenes encoding antimicrobial peptides reduce DED symptoms and therefore hold promise for enhancing pathogen resistance in American elm.

Communicated by L. Jouanin.