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Elm Yellows Phytoplasma Lethal to Dutch Elm Disease-Resistant Ulmus americana Cultivars

May 2001 , Volume 85 , Number  5
Pages  560.2 - 560.2

W. A. Sinclair , Department of Plant Pathology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853 ; and A. M. Townsend , USDA-ARS, Floral and Nursery Plants Research Unit, U.S. National Arboretum, 11601 Old Pond Drive, Glenn Dale, MD 20769 ; and J. L. Sherald , Center for Urban Ecology, National Biological Service, 4598 MacArthur Blvd. NW, Washington, DC 20007

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Accepted for publication 13 February 2001.

Ulmus americana (American elm) clonal cultivars Independence, New Harmony, and Valley Forge, together with the triploid putative hybrid cultivar Jefferson, were tested for reaction to the elm yellows (EY) phytoplasma. These cultivars all possess resistance to the fungal pathogen Ophiostoma novo-ulmi (1,4) but had not been screened for EY resistance or tolerance. Procedures and conditions of the test were similar to those used previously for assessing EY tolerance of Eurasian elm cultivars (3). In brief, 9 to 15 saplings of each cultivar and of U. americana raised from seed (susceptible controls), growing in a field plot at Ithaca, NY, were challenged by grafting their mainstems with bark patches from U. americana naturally affected by EY. Six to nine additional trees of each clone and of the seedling group were left untreated as controls. Inoculations were performed in July 1999, and trees were evaluated for symptoms in early September 2000. Multiple individuals in every inoculated group developed the syndrome typical of EY in U. americana: epinasty, foliar yellowing, yellow discoloration and necrosis of root and stem phloem, odor of methyl salicylate from moist discolored phloem on first exposure to air, defoliation or sudden permanent wilting, and death (2). The numbers of trees with these symptoms, of those inoculated, were: 9 of 9 Independence, 7 of 11 New Harmony, 10 of 14 Valley Forge, 3 of 13 Jefferson, and 12 of 15 trees grown from seed. Untreated controls remained asymptomatic, except for one tree of Valley Forge and two trees grown from seed that became infected naturally and had symptoms like those in the grafted trees. Based on these results, the elm cultivars named above are typical of U. americana in susceptibility to, and intolerance of, EY phytoplasmal infection. Effective EY resistance or tolerance in this species, although once thought to occur in rare individuals (2), remains undocumented.

References: (1) J. L. Sherald et al. Can. J. For. Res. 24:647, 1994. (2) W. A. Sinclair. 2000. Page 121 in: The Elms. C. P. Dunn, ed. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Norwell, MA. (3) W. A. Sinclair et al. Plant Dis. 84:1266--1270, 2000. (4) A. M. Townsend. 2000. Page 271 in: The Elms. C. P. Dunn, ed. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Norwell, MA.

© 2001 The American Phytopathological Society