We discuss and comment on the role agriculture will play in the containment of the CO2 problem and address protocols for terraforming the planet Earth.
A model farm template is imagined as the central methodology. A broad range of timely science news and other topics of interest are commented on.
Friday, April 6, 2012
Dutch Elm Disease Resistant American Elms Been Cloned
This is great news and it is fitting that it is happening at the
University of Guelph in Ontario.I lived
a few miles north and watched the onslaught of the dutch elm Disease at first
hand.That included the loss of a
majestic ancient elm on the farm I grew up on that held pride of place on the
bottom land by the river flowing through.The trunk was an easy four foot thick and the canopy itself reached
eighty feet when I used triangulation to measure it.
Years before, Horse Chestnuts were equally wiped out.
What is clear from this article is that restoration can begin with
naturally resistant Elm trees.Once
reestablished, I suspect a rapid spread because the wood is highly prized.
In the long term I anticipate a successful restoration movement to restore
the original biome as much as possible throughout Eastern North America.This will naturally flow from a restoration
of a living agriculture that engages all of us.
Scientists at the University
of Guelph have found a way to successfully clone American elm trees that have
survived repeated epidemics of their biggest killer - Dutch elm
The breakthrough, published in
the Canadian Journal of Forest Research, is the first known use of in vitro
culture technology to clone buds of mature American elm trees.
"This research has the
potential to bring back the beloved American elm population to North
America," said Prof. Praveen Saxena, a plant scientist who worked on the
project with Professor Alan Sullivan. Both are from Guelph's Department of
"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."
Majestic American elms were
among the most popular and recognizable trees in Ontario, lining boulevards and
adorning city centres. But more than 95 per cent of the population in Eastern
Canada and the United States has now been wiped out by Dutch elm disease.
The imported fungal infection
interferes with water transport and stops nutrients from circulating in
the tree. Only about one in 100,000 elms may be naturally resistant to the
Looking for new techniques to
clone and produce resistant trees through micropropagation, the Guelph
researchers selected tissue samples from survivors in Ontario, including a
century-old elm tree growing on the U of G campus.
"The trees that have
survived initial and subsequent epidemics potentially represent an invaluable
source of potential disease resistance for future plantings and breeding
programs," Saxena said.
After growing genetic copies
from the shoot tips and dormant buds, the researchers hope to
select germplasm with the desired traits including disease-resistance
which will further aid elm breeding and biotechnology programs around the
They also perfected a way to
conserve germplasm over the long term. A germplasm repository now contains 17
accessions collected from mature elm trees that survived across Ontario.
"Our results demonstrate
the usefulness of in vitro technologies for conserving and reintroducing
endangered germplasm of economic, social and environment significance,"
In vitro conservation
technology is highly efficient and better than seed banks for conservation of
many plant species, he added. Hundreds of genotypes with known
phenotypes can be conserved in a safe small space and can easily be propagated.
The professors worked with
Guelph postdoctoral researchers Mukund Shukla and Maxwell Jones; Chunzhao Liu,
Professor, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing; and Susan Gosling of the
"We want to conserve and
propagate the American elm and many other rare and endangered
Canadian native species so that we can start to replace what has
been decimated along the way," said Gosling.
Saxena said the team hopes to
reintroduce disease-resistant trees. "The need to conserve endangered
plant species in provinces such as Ontario where urban sprawl continues is
crucial and urgent."