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.
- Learn how you can support the project help restore the American chestnut tree!
- William Powell speaks at a Longwood Gardens Horticulture Symposium (video)
- William Powell presents at the University of Georgia (video)
- Demonstration of enhanced blight resistance in American chestnut trees as seen in a time-lapse video of a small stem assay
- Environmental Interactions with Transgenic American Chestnuts (with downloadable poster)
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).
Do you have a question or would you like to know more about the American Chestnut Project?
- Newhouse AE, Powell WA. Intentional introgression of a blight tolerance transgene to rescue the remnant population of American chestnut. Conservation Science and Practice. 2020;e348. https://conbio.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/csp2.348
- 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
- Developing Blight-Tolerant American Chestnut Trees (PDF), Powell WA, Newhouse AE, Coffey V. 2019. Developing blight-tolerant American chestnut trees., In Perspectives on Engineering Plants for Agriculture, P. Arnold Editor, Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol, doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a034587
- Goldspiel, Harrison, Andrew E. Newhouse, James P. Gibbs, and William A. Powell. 2018. "Effects of Transgenic American Chestnut Leaf Litter on Growth and Survival of Wood Frog Larvae." Restoration Ecology.
- Newhouse, A.E., Oakes, A.D., Pilkey, H.C., Roden, H.E., Horton, T.R., and Powell, W.A. (2018).Transgenic American Chestnuts Do Not Inhibit Germination of Native Seeds or Colonization of Mycorrhizal Fungi.
Frontiers in Plant Science 9:1–9.
- 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 228:88-97
- 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
Ten Thousand Chestnut Challenge
Over the next five years, our goal is to grow ten thousand blight-resistant American chestnut trees to jumpstart the effort to restore the tree to its native range in North America. Take action right now to keep us going strong! By making a tax deductible contribution to our project, and by sharing this challenge with your friends and colleagues, you can join our team and help us meet the challenge of actually growing ten thousand blight-resistant trees.
Make a Secure Online Donation to the American Chestnut Fund!
American Chestnut Project Videos
- ESF Research YouTube channel playlist
- GES Colloquium: Andy Newhouse - Transgenic American chestnuts for forest restoration
- Virtual Pollination Workshop (video)
The Chestnut Project in the News
- Alliance for Science: USDA to decide fate of American chestnut restoration
- Public Comment Sought on American Chestnut Restoration Project
- ESF’s American Chestnut Research Featured in New York Times Magazine
- ‘Transformational’ Gift from Templeton Foundation Supports Chestnut Restoration
- AgWeb Farm Journal: Science is Rescuing the Chestnut Tree
- University of New England: Pioneer in the effort to restore the American chestnut tree comes to UNE for Earth Day
- Independent: Plan to plant genetically engineered trees throughout US to save dying forests
- News Channel 9: SUNY ESF professor re-introduces American chestnut trees locally
- Talking Biotech: Two Critical Updates – Brinjals and Chestnuts
- Spectrum Going Green: Tadpoles and chestnut trees
- Washington Post: We nearly killed off these trees. But biotech can bring them back.
- Buffalo News: Quest begins, again, to bring back American chestnuts to Chestnut Ridge
- Life on a Mountain blog: Chestnut Redemption
- Press Herald: Will a genetically modified tree harm the environment?
- Penn State Ag Sciences: Return of the Ents
- Talking Biotech: Biotech, Forest Restoration and Conservation
- Phys.org: American chestnut rescue will succeed, but slower than expected
- Brewster's Hamlet Pub: Restoring American Chestnut Tree Population
- Toronto Star: Science finds a way to bring back the American chestnut tree
- The Winnower: Science AMA Series: ESF American Chestnut Project
- 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