‘Morfeo’ Elm: a new variety resistant to Dutch elm disease

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Summary

Dutch elm disease (DED) has spread through Europe and North America since the beginning of the twentieth century. In response, several independent genetic improvement programmes for breeding DED-resistant elms have been established on both sides of the Atlantic. Assimilating a wide range of resistant clones of different parentage should help ensure survival of the elm in the event of mutation of the pathogen. The Italian elm breeding programme began in the late 1970s and has recently raised a new variety by crossing a specimen of U. chenmoui with the Dutch hybrid clone ‘405’. This new release, named ‘Morfeo’, is extremely resistant to DED and has an attractive form and foliage. It is also fast-growing, tolerant of drought and soils waterlogged in winter, therefore proving well adapted to the climates of both north-western Europe and the Mediterranean. Following trials in England, ‘Morfeo’ is considered of potential importance in the conservation of several invertebrates endangered by the consequences of DED.

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