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The man who cured the elm tree

The Story

When he came to Toronto from Calcutta, University of Toronto researcher D.N. Roy had never seen an elm tree. Now he may be its saviour. The professor of wood chemistry has invented a system that can help elms fight off early Dutch elm infections through a fungicide injected into the tree roots. In this profile for CBC Television's Canadians, we meet a man who came halfway around the world to save our trees. 

Medium: Television
Program: Canadians
Broadcast Date: Oct. 20, 1979
Guest(s): D.N. Roy
Host: Paul Wrightman
Duration: 8:52

Did You know?

. Many cities now use the root-flare fungicide injection method to protect their high-value elm trees from Dutch elm disease. The system can be used to prevent elms from contracting the disease, or (with less success) for curing trees that recently contracted it. The system is relatively expensive — several hundred dollars per tree, every few years — but cheaper than tree removal, which can cost ten times as much.

. According to the University of Toronto website, Roy's previous research included "breakthrough work in the synthesis of a fungicide to control Dutch elm disease, work which resulted in three patents and worldwide attention. As well, novel chemical investigations such as the use of hybrid poplar leaf protein as food supplement, have been initiated in Dr. Roy's laboratories."

. In 1998 University of Regina researcher Taz Stuart developed a computer system that could analyze colours from satellite pictures to help detect stands of trees infected with Dutch elm disease.
. In 1999 University of Toronto researcher Martin Hubbes developed a vaccine "plug" that, when inserted into a tree's inner bark, could help prevent newly infected trees from succumbing to Dutch elm disease. It is being developed under the name ELMguard.


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