Developing Dutch elm-resistant trees for Minnesota
Ben Held, Plant Pathology
MITPPC ranks Dutch elm disease as the #1 invasive pathogen threat to Minnesota. Caused by the fungus Ophiostoma novo-ulmi, it has decimated the American elm in urban Minnesota – a tree known for its elegant form, full canopy and winter hardiness. As cities also contend with the widespread loss of ash to emerald ash borer, there is a need for new trees to fill the gap.
Researchers have been studying surviving elm trees in the region with the goal of understanding their natural resistance to Dutch elm. This work will screen for disease resistance traits on the path towards developing a winter-hardy Dutch elm-resistant variety. Team members aim to return native elm species back to the Minnesota landscape.
Identify disease-resistant elm trees in field trials
Propagate resistant elms
Reintroduce resistant elms to the Minnesota landscape
This work will produce new native elm varieties with a high level of resistance to Dutch elm disease, returning these magnificent trees back into our urban and forest landscapes.
Historically, elm has also been an important species in floodplain forests. Their loss has opened some sites to invasion by other plants, such as reed canarygrass. Restoring them could help prevent these kinds of opportunistic invasions.
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota State Parks, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board, City of Saint Paul, City of Duluth and other municipalities
Benjamin Held, co-principal investigator
Chad Giblin, co-principal investigator
Ryan Murphy, research fellow
Gary Johnson, cooperator
Robert Blanchette, cooperator
News & Publications
- UMN Urban Forestry Outreach, Research & Extension Lab: Elm Selection Project
- Watch undergraduate researcher Katie Connolly describe doing soil analysis work for elm restoration at home during COVID-19