Ďurkovič*, J., Kačík, F., Mamoňová, M., Lagaňa, R., Čaňová, I., Urban, J. and Krajňáková, J. 2019. New Insights into Dutch Elm Disease: Cell Wall Compositional, Ecophysiological, Vascular and Nanomechanical Assessments. Baltic Forestry 25(1): 10-14.

   Comprehensive assessments of the chemical profiles of woody cell wall components, and leaf growth, ecophysiological, vascular and nanomechanical traits for two Dutch elm hybrids 'Groeneveld' and 'Dodoens' which possess contrasting tolerances toward Dutch elm disease, were made. Upon infection with Ophiostoma novo-ulmi ssp. americana × novo-ulmi, medium-molecular weight macromolecules of cellulose were degraded in both hybrids. A loss of crystalline and non-crystalline cellulose regions occurred in parallel. In 'Groeneveld' plants, syringyl-rich lignin provided far greater degree of protection from cellulose degradation, but only guaiacyl-rich lignin in 'Dodoens' plants was involved in a successful defence against the fungus. Unexpectedly, we found a very high proportion of non-significant differences between the infected and non-infected plants of 'Dodoens', including similarities in leaf growth, leaf gas exchange and leaf midrib vascular traits, as well as in the nanomechanical properties of the cell walls of tracheary elements such as modulus of elasticity, adhesion and energy dissipation. Three years after initial inoculations, except for a few traits such as leaf slenderness, relative chlorophyll content, transpiration rate and sap flow density in branches, we found no evidence of a decrease in leaf trait performances among the infected plants of 'Dodoens', despite the occasional persistence of fungal hyphae in the lumens of leaf midrib tracheary elements.

Keywords: cellulose degradation, nuclear magnetic resonance, modulus of elasticity, Ophiostoma novo-ulmi, syringyl to guaiacyl ratio in lignin, transpiration