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American Elm

GRIPP American Elm Ulmus Americana

Species name

Ulmus Americana L.

Conservation Status in Canada

American Elm is not currently listed as threatened or endangered, however their populations have declined significantly since the 1970s. Unfortunately, Dutch elm disease has now wiped out more than 95 per cent of the American elm population in Eastern Canada and the United States. Dutch Elm Disease is caused by a fungal infection, which interferes with the circulation of water and nutrients, resulting wilting symptoms and eventual death.

Distribution and Habitat

American elm is widespread in Eastern North America occurring as far west as Saskatchewan and Montana and as far south as Texas and Florida. Trees can be found in a wide array of habitats.

Why This Species Matters

Culturally the species is of great significance, as elms were once among the most popular and recognizable trees in North America, lining boulevards and adorning city centres. Additionally, American Elm trees hold ecological significance providing food and shelter to numerous species including songbirds such as the Baltimore oriole.


Dutch Elm Disease

What is GRIPP doing?

Only about one in 100,000 elms may be naturally tolerant to Dutch Elm Disease pathogen. These survivors are invaluable as they have survived repeated outbreaks of DED and represent potential sources of tolerant trees for distribution and future breeding efforts. An efficient procedure for in vitro propagation and conservation of mature American elm trees has been developed at GRIPP. This technology is expected to facilitate the conservation of elite germplasm, screen large populations of in vitro generated plants for disease resistance, reintroduction of resistant genotypes in the landscape, and as a resource for future breeding efforts. The systematic optimization of culture parameters can serve as a model to improve conservation of tree species.

  1. Sherif SM, Erland LA, Shukla MR, Saxena PK. (2017). Bark and wood tissues of American elm exhibit distinct responses to Dutch elm disease. Scientific Reports. doi: 10.1038/s41598-
  2. Saremba BM, Tymm FJM, Baethke K, Rheault MR, Sherif SM, Saxena PK, Murch SJ. (2017). Plant signals during beetle (Scolytus multistriatus) feeding in American elm (Ulmus americana Planch). Plant Signaling & Behavior. 12(5): e1296997.
  3. Sherif SM, Shukla MR, Murch SJ, Bernier L, Saxena PK. (2016). Simultaneous induction of jasmonic acid anddisease-responsive genes signifies tolerance of American elm to Dutch elm disease. Scientific Reports (Nature). 6: 21934.
  4. Jones AMP, Shukla MR., Biswas GCG, Saxena PK. (2015). Protoplast-to-plant regeneration of American elm (Ulmus americana). Protoplasma. 252: 925-931.
  5. Sherif S, Jones AMP, Shukla MR, Saxena PK. (2013). Establishment of invasive and non-invasive reporter systems to investigate American elm-Ophiostoma novo-ulmi interactions. Fungal Genetics and Biology. 8(10): e76802.
  6. Uchendu EE, Shukla MR, Reed BM, Saxena, PK. (2013). Melatonin enhances the recovery of cryopreserved shoot tips of American elm (Ulmus americana L.). Journal of Pineal Research. 55(4):435-442.
  7. Shukla MR, Jones AMP, Sullivan JA, Liu C, Gosling S, Saxena PK. (2012). In vitro conservation of American elm (Ulmus americana): potential role of auxin metabolism in sustained plant proliferation.Can. J. For. Res.42: 686-697.
  8. Jones, AMP, Chattopadhyay A, Shukla M, Zon J, Saxena PK. (2012). Inhibition of phenylpropanoid biosynthesis increases cell wall digestibility, protoplast isolation, and facilitates sustained cell division in American elm (Ulmus americana). BMC Plant Biology. 12: 75.

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