Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

American Chestnut returns to New York City

Date:
April 12, 2012
Source:
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Summary:
The once-mighty American chestnut tree, which was virtually wiped out by a pathogenic fungus that arrived in New York City more than 100 years ago, will return April 18 to the area where it was first discovered in the Bronx.

Researchers are working to reintroduce the American chestnut tree.
Credit: Image courtesy of SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

The once-mighty American chestnut tree, which was virtually wiped out by a pathogenic fungus that arrived in New York City more than 100 years ago, will return April 18 to the area where it was first discovered in the Bronx.

Related Articles


Researchers from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) in Syracuse, N.Y., with supporters from The American Chestnut Foundation, will plant 10 transgenic American chestnut trees at a test site in The New York Botanical Garden. The scientists say there is reason to believe this field trial will reveal a variety of American chestnut that can survive a blight attack.

"We've been working on this for a long time and are looking at many genes. One particular gene has become my favorite," said Dr. William Powell, a plant biotechnology expert at ESF. "And over the years it has convinced me that this gene is going to do the trick."

Powell and his colleague, Dr. Charles Maynard, a tree improvement specialist, are enthusiastic about a gene derived from wheat that they have shown to increase resistance to a fungal pathogen in hybrid poplar. Powell and Maynard believe this gene will also be effective in the American chestnut because it detoxifies the oxalic acid produced by the blight pathogen. Oxalic acid kills the trees by attacking the cambium, the part of the tree that allows it to continue reproducing cells. A canker forms and everything above the canker dies. The roots can remain healthy and continue to send up shoots but the trees die back to ground level within a few years.

"If we can eliminate the oxalic acid, we probably will get a resistant tree," Powell said.

The American chestnut was once a dominant species in the forests of the eastern United States; it accounted for 25 percent of the trees in the forest. A healthy one can grow more than 100 feet tall and measure 10 feet in diameter.

"This was a key species in the eastern forest. It was super at producing nuts for wildlife; very important for agriculture for human consumption of the nuts; very important for the lumber industry, making a rot-resistant, fast-growing wood product; and it was an important part of our history," Powell said. "We really want to bring it back. The only way it can come back is to make a resistant tree because no one has been able to control the blight any other way."

The location of the planting is significant.

"We're very excited to be going back to The New York Botanical Garden because that's a stone's throw, literally across the street, from where the blight was discovered in 1904," Maynard said.

Author Eric W. Sanderson, in his 2009 book, "Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City," wrote that when Henry Hudson first saw the island now called Manhattan in 1609, the American chestnut was "king of kings," making up more than half the trees in the forest.

Powell and Maynard, who describe themselves as the third generation of scientists searching for a solution, have conducted their research through the American Chestnut Research and Restoration Program at ESF, with support from the New York chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation, the Forest Health Initiative, ArborGen and many others. They were the first research team to run field trials of transgenic varieties.

The trees being planted at the Botanical Garden are among more than 100 varieties of transgenic American chestnuts that are being tested in field trials or waiting to be tested for blight resistance. The planting is one of several events April 18 that will celebrate the progress made during the 25 years that Maynard and Powell have devoted to the effort.

Before the planting, the two scientists will present a 3 p.m. lecture on the economic and ecological importance of the American chestnut tree, their research progress and the trees that are about to be planted. After the trees are planted, the events will conclude with an ESF Alumni reception and dinner in the Lillian and Amy Goldman Stone Mill on the Bronx River and adjacent to the native Forest in the heart of the Garden.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. "American Chestnut returns to New York City." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120412141816.htm>.
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. (2012, April 12). American Chestnut returns to New York City. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120412141816.htm
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. "American Chestnut returns to New York City." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120412141816.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins