The nearly century-old effort to employ selective breeding to rescue the American chestnut, which has been rendered functionally extinct by an introduced disease — Chestnut blight, eventually will succeed, but it will take longer than many people expect.
That is the gist of findings from a new study conducted by a research team composed of scientists from Penn State, The American Chestnut Foundation and State University of New York. This
research should tamp down expectations of both the public and some members of the science community that victory is imminent, but it also provides reassurance that the rescue ultimately will
To reach their conclusions, researchers reviewed and evaluated decades of breeding records and transgenic experiments, new experimental data, and made projections related to how recurrent selection and incorporation of transgenic material into breeding lines will expedite blight resistance. They considered experimentally based estimates of heritability and genetic gain for blight resistance that were never available before this research was conducted.
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