Reviving the American chestnut: 10,000 blight-resistant GMO trees being grown in New York

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Reviving the American chestnut: 10,000 blight-resistant GMO trees being grown in New York Image: American Chestnut Research and Restoration Project

For nearly 30 years, researchers at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry have been studying the disease that wiped out four billion American chestnut trees in the 1900s, in hopes of reestablishing the population of the majestic tree with the help of modern science.

[SUNY ESF professor and co-founder of the American Chestnut Research and Restoration Project William] Powell’s team first worked to identify the genome that could protect the historically significant trees from blight. Next came the first plantings of genetically modified seeds; now the team is seeking for approvals from the federal government and preparing to distribute 10,000 blight-resistant American chestnut trees to jump start the effort to restore the tree to its native range in North America.

Powell said the key was finding a gene in the tree that can detoxify the acid the blight releases to kill the trees cells.

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Powell said he expects to have all of the paperwork submitted for USDA review this year, and the review process could take several years.

Read full, original post: SUNY ESF researchers growing 10,000 blight-resistant American chestnut trees

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