Vaccination of elms against Dutch Elm Disease—Are the associated epiphytes and endophytes affected?

Witzell J., Sunnerstam C. & Hansson T.
Journal of Fungi
9(3): 297 [12 p.]
Dutch elm disease (DED) is causing extensive mortality of ecologically and culturally valuable elm trees (Ulmus spp.). Treatment of elms with the biological vaccine Dutch Trig® has been found to provide effective protection against DED by stimulating the defensive mechanisms of the trees. We hypothesized that the same mechanisms could also affect non‐target organisms associated with elms. We explored the possible effects of vaccination on epiphytes (mainly lichens) and fungal endophytes living in the bark and young xylem of treated elms. Epiphyte cover percentage was assessed visually using a grid placed on the trunks, and a culture‐based approach was used to study endophytes. Epiphyte cover was lower on the trunks of vaccinated trees as compared with unvaccinated trees, but the difference was not statistically significant. The presence of slow‐growing and uncommon endophytes seemed to be reduced in continuously vaccinated elms; however, the highest endophyte diversity was found in elms four years after cessation of the vaccination treatments. Our findings suggest that although vaccination may shape epiphyte and endophyte communities in elms, its impacts are not straightforward. More detailed studies are, therefore, needed to inform the sustainable application of the vaccine as a part of the integrated management of DED. Keywords: Ulmus spp.; Dutch Trig®; vaccination; biocontrol; epiphytes; endophytes.
Saturday, 25 February 2023 12:40