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 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


The Chestnut Project in the News

News Feed

· American Chestnut Project in Get to Know GMOs Month

(The American Chestnut Research & Restoration Project was mentioned in an article as part of BIOtechNOW's month-long GMO feature. 10/22/14) READ MORE

· WSYR: SUNY ESF scientists bringing back the American Chestnut tree

After nearly a quarter century of research, a team from SUNY ESF is on the cusp of a major breakthrough. 10/11/13 READ MORE

· WAMC Northeast Public Radio: David Chanatry: The American Chestnut Tree

The American Chestnut tree was once known as the king of the eastern forest. 10/03/13 READ MORE

· The Motley Fool: How Genetic Engineering Can Save the Iconic American Chestnut Tree

An estimated 3 billion to 6 billion American chestnut trees once covered forests spreading from southern Mississippi to central Maine. 03/16/14 READ MORE

· The Daily Star: Chestnuts are making a comeback

Recently, The American Chestnut Foundation has been working with SUNY-College of Environmental Science and Forestry to produce a blight-resistant chestnut tree. 03/28/14 READ MORE

In the News

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