Restoration of the American Chestnut TreeVIDEO: Dr. William Powell and Dr. Charles Maynard discuss discusses the progress made in developing a blight-resistant strain of the American Chestnut tree.
Demonstration of enhanced blight resistance in American chestnut trees as seen in a time-lapse video of a small stem assay
The project has evolved from basic research into a multifaceted endeavor which includes such areas as the identification of plant pathogen resistance-enhancing genes, the development of American chestnut tissue culture, field testing chestnut trees from tissue culture, public participation through the identification of rare remnant survival chestnut trees, collection and exchange of viable nuts and the establishment of large restoration plantations throughout New York State.
Ongoing activities include basic research on various single and pyramided resistance-enhancing gene designs, identification of genes associated with Asian chestnut resistance, chestnut tissue culture and gene transfer into American chestnut trees, determination of the genetic diversity in surviving remnant chestnut populations, greenhouse and field testing of putative resistant transgenic trees, the collection of rare chestnut germplasm, and the establishment of germplasm archives throughout New York.
The concepts, techniques, and gene cassettes we are developing for American chestnut will also have broad applicability in managing diseases affecting the productivity of other important tree species such as Dutch-elm disease and elm yellows (which devastated another American heritage tree, the American elm,Ulmus americana) and Septoria leaf spot and canker disease of hybrid poplar (which is becoming a key biomass tree species).
The American Chestnut's Genetic Rebirth, by William Powell, Scientific American, March 2014 issue, pages 68-73