Wood components and Dutch elm disease tolerance

Ďurkovič et al. examine two elm hybrids with contrasting survival strategies upon infection with the current prevalent strain of Dutch elm disease.
Wood components and Dutch elm disease tolerance
Wood components and Dutch elm disease tolerance

Changes occurring in the macromolecular traits of wood cell wall components of elm (Ulmus species) following an attack by Ophiostoma novo-ulmi (Dutch elm disease) are poorly understood. Ďurkovič et al. examine two elm hybrids with contrasting survival strategies upon infection with the current prevalent strain of the disease (ssp. americana × novo-ulmi) and find that the syringyl-to-guaiacyl ratio in lignin affects the degradability of cellulose by cellulolytic enzymes. When infected, the hybrids respond to medium-molecular weight cellulose degradation with the biosynthesis of high-molecular weight macromolecules of cellulose, resulting in an increase in values for the degree of polymerization and polydispersity. However, only guaiacyl-rich lignin in the tolerant hybrid is involved in a successful defence against the fungus.