The American Chestnut Research and Restoration Project
- Learn how you can support the project help restore the American chestnut tree!
- Restoration of the American Chestnut Tree
VIDEO: Dr. William Powell and Dr. Charles Maynard discuss 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 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).
- A New Generation Of American Chestnut Trees May Redefine America's Forests, by Ferris Jabr, Scientific American Volume 310, Issue 3
- The American Chestnut's Genetic Rebirth, by William Powell, Scientific American, March 2014 issue, pages 68-73
- 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
Ten Thousand Chestnut Challenge: A Restoration Forest
In 2014, ESF scientists announced they had developed a blight-resistant American chestnut tree. Since then, we have been working diligently to produce the first 10,000 blight-resistant trees for future distribution to the public. Our hope is to help restore this iconic tree to its former prominence in the forests, ecology and economy of the United States.
Our next step is to establish a permanent Restoration Forest on ESF land near Tully, NY. Here, we will recreate the native forest ecosystem of 100 years ago so that we can continue to develop healthy and genetically diverse trees, and study the long-term strategies and benefits of returning American chestnuts to the wild. Donate to the Restoration Forest crowdfunder by March 19 to both help fund the project’s launch, and add support to our upcoming $1 million grant proposal to further fund the restoration forest!
American Chestnut Project Videos
ESF Research YouTube channel playlist
The Chestnut Project in the News
- Crop Biotech Update: ESF Scientists Develop Transgenic American Chestnut Trees
- Christian News Today: Science finds a way to bring back the American chestnut tree
- Cape Cod Times: Frontiers in biotechnology hold vast promise
- Cornell Alliance for Science: Restoration forest project will showcase GMO chestnut trees
- ScienceDaily: Mighty American Chestnut poised for return to America's forests
- Mighty American Chestnut Poised for Return to America’s Forests
- ScienceLine: The American chestnut tree has a good shot at making a comeback
- Transgenic News: Transgenic Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire
- Phys.org: Spread by trade and climate, bugs butcher America's forests
- Planet Forward: Chestnut revival: How genetics could bring back an American giant
- Genetic Literacy Project: Genetic engineering could help restore endangered trees and boost natural ecosystems
- North Country Public Radio: Can GMOs save the wild American chestnut tree?
- WSKG: Can Science Resurrect The American Chestnut?
- WRVO: Can science help the American chestnut make a comeback?
- Cedar Rapids Gazette: Chestnuts link American past with Iowa future
- National Geographic: How the DNA Revolution Is Changing Us
- Olean Times Herald: Two trees with connections to Flight 93 planted at Nannen Arboretum
- Entomology Today: Can Genetically Modified Trees Save American Forests?
- Genetic Literacy Project: Biotechnology could save trees decimated by invasive insects, disease
- USDA Blog: Will Chestnuts Roast on an Open Fire Again Someday?
- National Academy of Sciences: Genetically Engineered Trees
- Staten Island Live: Is the American chestnut found on Staten Island?
- Daily Orange: SUNY-ESF researchers look to restore American chestnut tree population
- New Yorker: Unnatural Selection: What will it take to save the world’s reefs and forests?
- 27East: Notes On The Long Island Natural History Conference: Restoring The American Chestnut
- R&D Magazine: Restoring the American Chestnut
- Headlines & Global News: Genetic Engineering Could Revive American Chestnut Trees
- Business Insider: Genetic engineering could save an iconic American tree from extinction
- GardenRant: GMO Trees
- Phys.org: New genetically engineered American chestnut will help restore the decimated, iconic tree
- The Conversation: New genetically engineered American chestnut will help restore the decimated, iconic tree
- Our Little Acre: Roasting, Planting, and Restoring the American Chestnut
- Concord Monitor: Chestnut trees planting a comeback?
- TakePart: Here’s How to Crack the Ultimate Holiday Nut
- Plant Science Today: Best of Plants 2015: Outreach and Communication
- Wall Street Journal: Readers Sound Off on Bears, Schools, Trees and More
- News Channel 10: Near-extinction makes chestnuts a relic of Christmas' past
- Plant Science Today: Chestnuts featured in #AdventBotany
- Lohud: Two Westchester groups are helping to save the American chestnut tree
- News flash: genetic engineering may save the American chestnut tree
- Bay Journal: Back-cross American chestnut project raising hopes for tree’s restoration
- Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter: The Mighty American Chestnut: New York conservationists lead epic tree restoration effort
- Smithsonian: The Race to Save the World's Great Trees By Cloning Them
- Sydney Morning Herald: A hole in the horizon
- Genetic Literacy Project: Anti-GMO forces can slow train of technological progress but cannot derail it
- Leader in American Chestnut Restoration To Receive ESF’s Feinstone Award
- The Quiet Branches: Bringing back a forest
- NY Times: Dead Forests and Living Memories
- BIOTech Now: Could GMOs Save Endangered Plants and Animals?
- Ensia: In the race to save species, GMOs are coming to nature