Plant Cell Reports

, Volume 26, Issue 7, pp 977–987 | Cite as

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

  • Andrew E. Newhouse
  • Franziska Schrodt
  • Haiying Liang
  • Charles A. Maynard
  • William A. PowellEmail author
Genetic Transformation and Hybridization


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.


Ulmus americana Ophiostoma novo-ulmi Dutch elm disease resistance Transgenic Mycorrhizae 



Dutch-elm disease




Saline sodium citrate


Sodium dodecyl sulfate (also known as sodium lauryl sulfate)


Potato dextrose broth


Potato dextrose agar


Minimum inhibitory concentration


Anti-microbial peptide



ArborGen, LLC provided funding for this research. Thanks to Drs. Tom Horton and Larry Smart for shared expertise and use of lab equipment. Thanks and best of luck to Nick Kaczmar for carrying on this research. Many thanks to Megan Newhouse for valuable advice, support and encouragement.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew E. Newhouse
    • 1
  • Franziska Schrodt
    • 1
  • Haiying Liang
    • 2
  • Charles A. Maynard
    • 3
  • William A. Powell
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Faculty of Environmental and Forest BiologySUNY College of Environmental Science and ForestrySyracuseUSA
  2. 2.Department of Genetics and BiochemistryClemson UniversityClemsonUSA
  3. 3.Faculty of Forest and Natural Resources ManagementSUNY College of Environmental Science and ForestrySyracuseUSA

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