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chestnut branch, leaves, flowers

Restoring the American Chestnut

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).


Do you have a question or would you like to know more about the American Chestnut Project?

Please contact:

Kaitlin Breda
Administrative Assistant

Suggested Readings

Overview article:

Research articles:

  • Newhouse, Andrew E., Anastasia E. Allwine, Allison D. Oakes, Dakota F. Matthews, Scott H. McArt, and William A. Powell. 2021. Bumble Bee (Bombus Impatiens) Survival, Pollen Usage, and Reproduction Are Not Affected by Oxalate Oxidase at Realistic Concentrations in American Chestnut (Castanea Dentata) Pollen. Transgenic Research.
  • 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
The Thousand Chestnut Challage

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

The Chestnut Project in the News