Plant science: The chestnut resurrection

Sean Zera
Fri, 12 Oct 2012 08:10:57 PDT
Blight-resistant American chestnuts have been found in the wild, and a
competing group with a similar name, the American Chestnut Cooperators'
Foundation <>, has a breeding project using only
these non-hybrid trees. If I understand correctly, the hybrid chestnuts
were selected not just for blight resistance but for desirable timber
traits, which seems like a bad idea. I actually like the idea of
genetically modified chestnuts better, as they are presumably closer to the
pure native species than the hybrids are. Many individual plants might also
be GMed, allowing for reestablishment from regional genotype.

Lots of chestnuts throughout the range are not dead, but simply don't reach
flowering size before they're killed to the ground again by blight. If a
biological control were found or engineered, chestnuts might recover with a
fair bit of the species' genetic diversity intact.

Sean Z
Zone 6a
SE Michigan

More information about the pbs mailing list