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The American Chestnut Research and Restoration Project

The American Chestnut Research and Restoration Project

The mission of the American Chestnut Research and Restoration Center is to conduct basic and applied research that will lead to the development of a blight-resistant American chestnut tree (Castanea dentata). Our goal is to reintroduce a population of these resistant trees back into forest ecosystems of New York and then the rest of the eastern United States.

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).

Transgenic American Chestnut Planting at the New York Botanical Garden

  • ESF researchers at the NY Botanical Garden.

  • Chuck Maynard demonstrating proper planting technique.

  • American Chestnut Foundation member are always willing.

  • Even our Provost, Dr. Bruce Bongarten, got into the act.

Suggested Readings

Overview article:

Research articles:

  • Newhouse, AE, LD McGuigan, KA Baier, KE Valletta, WH Rottmann, TJ Tschaplinski, CA Maynard, WA Powell. 2014. Transgenic American chestnuts show enhanced blight resistance and transmit the trait to T1 progeny. Plant Science (in press)
  • Zhang B, AD Oakes, AE Newhouse, KM Baier, CA Maynard and WA Powell. 2013. A threshold level of oxalate oxidase transgene expression reduces Cryphonectria parasitica - induced necrosis in a transgenic American chestnut (Castanea dentata) leaf bioassay. Transgenic Research 22, Issue 5 (2013), Page 973-982
  • Newhouse, AE, JE Spitzer, CA Maynard, WA Powell. 2014. Leaf Inoculation Assay as a Rapid Predictor of Chestnut Blight Susceptibility. Plant Disease 98:4-9
  • Baier, K.M., C.A. Maynard, and W.A. Powell. 2012. Early flowering in Chestnut species induced under high intensity, high dose light in growth chambers. Journal of The American Chestnut Foundation 26:8-10
  • D'Amico, T. Horton, C. Maynard, and W. Powell. 2011. Assessing ectomycorrhizal associations and transgene expression in transgenic Castanea dentata. (Extended abstract for the IUFRO meeting in 2011) BioMed Central (BMC) Proceedings 2011, 5(Suppl 7):O54
  • Dr. Powell's publications
  • Dr. Maynard's publications

How You Can Help

Join the New York Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation at http://www.acf.org/Chapters_ny.php or your local state chapter.

Please consider making a direct donation to the "American Chestnut fund" to help support this research,

for more information contact:

ESF Development Office
214 Bray Hall
1 Forestry Drive
Syracuse, NY 13210
315-470-6683
gifts@esf.edu

planting

The Chestnut Project in the News

News Feed

· The Atlantic: Genetically Engineering an Icon: Can Biotech Bring the Chestnut Back to America's Forests?

In the 20th century, a blight killed off four billion of these towering trees. Now, new research shows that a gene, taken from wheat, provides resistance. 05/31/13 READ MORE

· The Economist: Into the wildwood

A GM species may soon be liberated deliberately. 05/04/13 READ MORE

· New York Times: Like-Minded Rivals Race to Bring Back the Chestnut Tree

Capping decades of research, two groups of plant breeders and geneticists appear to have arrived independently within reach of the same arboreal holy grail: creating an American chestnut tree that can, at long last, withstand the devastating fungus blight that wiped the trees out by the billions in the first half of the 20th century. 07/14/13 READ MORE

· New York Times: Bringing Back the American Chestnut Tree

Capping decades of research, two groups of plant breeders and geneticists appear to be within reach of creating an American chestnut tree that can withstand the devastating blight that wiped the trees out by the billions in the first half of the 20th century. 07/14/13 READ MORE

· The Wall Street Journal: Hopes for Chestnut Revival Growing

Engineered Versions of the Once-Common Species, Long Ago Wiped Out by a Fungus, Take Root. 08/19/12 READ MORE

In the News


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State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry
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