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Chestnut restoration

Posted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 8:50 am
by Ranger Dan
The new genetically-engineered, fully blight-resistant American chestnuts may soon be restoring our forests! Here is a link to an article and short video:
http://phys.org/news/2014-11-blight-res ... -root.html

Re: Chestnut restoration

Posted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 8:34 pm
by gnmcmartin
Dan:

Hooray, hooray! Dr. Charles Maynard is the forest science professor who I learned about years ago when I did my search, nationwide, with a "nibble or two" into Europe, to learn all I could about Norway spruce. I believe that at that time, I talked to everyone and anyone in the USA who knew anything about Norway spruce, both from a scientific perspective, and a cultural perspective. I contacted Charles "Chuck" Maynard because he was dong a provenance trail with Norway spruce, and overseeing a previous trial established about 40 years prior, at their experimental forest.

Well, that is a long "prologue." Chuck gave me and my wife a full tour of the experimental forest at SUNY, but also gave me a tour of their biotechnology lab, if that is the proper term. He showed my wife and me exactly how they were working with chestnut material, inserting the genes, and growing/propagating the cells in an artificial environment. I didn't know enough to understand all that he explained and showed us.

In the years since, the hybridizing with Chinese chestnut has gotten all the attention. They have been crossing and re-crossing, and testing, and trying to produce a tree that would carry the blight resistant genes, but also carry the genes that carried all the desirable characteristics of the American chestnut. This seemed to me to be a very laborious and time-consuming process, and so it has been. They have two trial plantings at the Virginia Arboretum, near here. I had wondered about what had happened to the project at ESF at SUNY Syracuse. I never saw any reports about it, and had not spoken to Charles Maynard for a long time.

So, voila! Here it is. I wonder if Dr. Maynard remembers me. Maybe I could prevail upon him to send me a little tree, so I could have one of the first. Maybe no one would know! Hah!

Thanks Dan--wonderful news! I am happy for the chestnut trees, and very happy for the people at ESF. They were just about the nicest, most helpful, and generous people I have ever had to pleasure to deal with in any professional capacity. Dr. Edwin White was Dean of Research there for many years.

--Gaines

Re: Chestnut restoration

Posted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 7:39 am
by Joe
Ranger Dan wrote:The new genetically-engineered, fully blight-resistant American chestnuts may soon be restoring our forests! Here is a link to an article and short video:
http://phys.org/news/2014-11-blight-res ... -root.html
I'm not yet confident that they have 100% blight resistant trees but I hope they do.
Joe

Re: Chestnut restoration

Posted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 7:41 am
by Rand
In the years since, the hybridizing with Chinese chestnut has gotten all the attention. They have been crossing and re-crossing, and testing, and trying to produce a tree that would carry the blight resistant genes, but also carry the genes that carried all the desirable characteristics of the American chestnut. This seemed to me to be a very laborious and time-consuming process, and so it has been. They have two trial plantings at the Virginia Arboretum, near here.
The ACF is currently doing a limited distribution of what they call 'Restoration Chestnut 1.0' (Membership dues of $300/yr gets you six nuts if I recall correctly). The downside is ~20-30% of the trees have the desirable chinese level of resistance, while the remainder have a variable level of resistance, that ranges from pretty good, to american chestnut level cannon fodder. So they are careful to say they are 'potentially blight resistant'. Currently they are planting huge blocks of trees at Meadowview (their main research farm) and then keeping 2 trees out 150, in an attempt to smoke out the remaining genes for blight susceptibility, and get a tree that breeds true for blight resistance. The state chapters are also interbreeding blight resistant hybrids with local American trees, to pick up the genes that are specific to the condition in each state.

Kind of a kick in the seat of the pants to be beaten to a better solution in the final leg, but the transgenic trees do sound like a better solution.