I attended the ACF meeting in Huntsville today and listening to several presentations and discussions about growing chestnuts. The gist of the discussion was around getting American chestnuts re-established in forests. Anyone else attend? have comments?
I’m in Canada, so I didn’t attend, but I do have some comments. TACF is using back cross breeding to transfer 2 or 3 major genes for blight resistance from Chinese and Japanese chestnut into the American ones. Some minor genes seem to tag along too. Backcross breeding takes a while, but it does work. There is also the slow gathering up of small resistance genes in the pure species too…both Canada and the US are using this approach. This also works, with the Canadian group testing two lines, backcross derived and addtive resistance derived. The mean resistance is about the same, so both approaches work. Then there is the genetic splicing in of a wheat antifungal gene, and this also works. It will depend on public acceptance of the GMO approach, whether those trees become releasable. Backcross 1 trees look a lot like the pure species, but I live in a blight free area, so I can’t test them.
This is another organization, I believe affiliated with Virginia tech http://accf-online.org/
they are using all-American genetics.
I may just be sentimental, but I hope we can bring back 100% American native trees with conventional breeding. It will just take time.
Yes, ACCF is dong the same thing as the Canadian Chestnut Council.
You’re right, it’s a slow gather up of genes, but it does work.