2019 Gettysburg Fall Poster Session

The American Chestnut Foundation® (TACF) leads the effort to restore the American chestnut, bringing this important issue to the forefront of current conservation initiatives. The TACF Annual Meetings bring together scientists, conservationists, private landowners and industry professionals to share information and perspectives about the American chestnut and inspire reintroduction of this species to eastern forests.  The meetings provide an opportunity to enhance awareness of the importance of American chestnut restoration, explore partnerships, exchange information and discuss this exciting project with a wide audience.

The Poster Session

TACF’s poster session aims to recognize the breadth of topics under investigation in the name of species restoration. It is a great way to expose attendees to the most current research, and the variety of American chestnut projects being pursued. Research posters address topics relative to American chestnut restoration and include, but are not limited to:

  • Silviculture and forest management
  • Chestnut blight, Phytophthora cinnamomi (ink disease) and other pests and pathogens
  • Forest genetics
  • Restoration and reintroduction
  • Mine-land reclamation
  • Forest and wildlife ecology
  • History
  • Timber value/use
  • Breeding and biotechnology
  • Other topics related to American chestnut

Year on year,  the Poster Session is a highlight of the Fall Annual Meetings, and 2019 was no exception.  13 posters were presented, contributed by members, chapters and students from schools around the country. Please see the complete guide to the presentations in the 2019 Poster Session Abstracts below.

2019 Poster Session Abstracts

2019 Poster Presentations


Chestnut Restoration Branching Out? Biotechnology, Reintroduction, & Stakeholder Engagement

Barnhill-Dilling, S. K. 2019.
North Carolina State University, Department of Forestry & Environmental
Resources, 2800 Faucette Drive, Raleigh, NC

Yokshita (Yoks) Bathula

Overexpression of acid phosphatase cisgene in American chestnut enhances resistance to Cryphonectria parasitica in leaf assays

Bathula, Y.R.; Northern, L, and Powell, W.A. 2019.
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY

Hannah Crawford

Silviculture of the American Chestnut in the Cumberland Uplands of Tennessee

Crawford, H. L.; Craddock, J. H. 2019.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Department of Biology, Geology, and Environmental Science, 615 McCallie Avenue, Chattanooga, TN

Trent Deason

Accelerated, graft-based, germplasm conservation of American chestnut (Castanea dentata) in the South

Deason, T.A.; Craddock, J.H. 2019.
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, 615 McCallie Ave, Chattanooga, TN

Bruce Levine

The Role of the CpSec66 gene in Cryphonectria parasitica pathogenicity in chestnut

Levine, B.J., Wu, Y., Xiao, S. 2019.
University of Maryland, Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology Research, 9600 Gudelsky Dr, Rockville, MD

Kathryn Maley

Success of American chestnut hybrid seedlings in a Walland, TN backcross seed orchard

Maley, K.N.; Unger, D.E. 2019.
Maryville College, 502 East Lamar Alexander Parkway, Maryville, TN

Carol Mapes

The Asian Chestnut Gall Wasp Dryocosmus kuriphilus Yasumatsu (Hymenoptera: Cynipidae) in Eastern Pennsylvania and Surroundings

Mapes, C.C.; Setliff, G.P.; Bothur, K.; and Courtney, R.S. 2019.
Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, Department of Biology, Kutztown, PA

Andy Newhouse

Nutrition, composition, and dietary safety of transgenic chestnuts

Newhouse, A. E.; Powell, W.A. 2019.
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Forestry Drive, Syracuse, NY

Jacob Pease

American Chestnut (Castanea dentata) Reintroduction in Kentucky: A GIS Approach

Pease, J.R. 2019.
Murray State University, 2112 Biology Building, Murray, KY

Huntter Smith

Habitat Suitability for American Chestnuts in Eastern Hardwood Forests

Smith, H.L. 2019.
Lake Superior State University, 650 W Easterday Ave, Sault Ste. Marie, MI

The Student Competition

Since 2015, a competition has been held for the student poster presenters.  All students (undergraduate, graduate, high school, etc.) are welcome to participate and judges from TACF’s scientific community assess the posters themselves, as well as the students’ presentation of their work.  Judging is held just prior to our Saturday Night Gala dinner, where the winners are announced and presented with their cash awards and certificates. 2018 brought six student presenters to the competition.

2019 Student Competition Winners

1st Place: Hannah Pilkey

Genetic Transformation of the Ozark Chinquapin (Castanea ozarkensis)

Pilkey, H.C.; McGuigan L.D.; Powell, W.A. 2019.
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Forestry Drive, Syracuse, NY

The arrival of the invasive fungal pathogen, Cryphonectria parasitica (cause of the chestnut blight), decimated the native Castanea tree species in the eastern U.S. and southern Ontario, Canada. Billions of American chestnuts and chinquapins were killed. The extirpation of this keystone genus severely impacted the ecology of our forests. Today, the trees persist naturally as stump sprouts, AGL1  strain containing the p35S-OxO binary vector. The presence of the OxO transgene was confirmed in one embryo culture by PCR. It was determined that a transgenic Ozark chinquapin can be  eveloped using the same framework for American chestnut transformation. Continuing research will focus on further optimization of the tissue culture and transformation protocols, determining transgene copy number and expression in the transgenic events, and eventually blight resistance assays. These tools of genetic engineering may help the restoration of the Ozark chinquapin.

Hannah’s winning poster

2nd Place:  Cindy Ingram

Response of Restoration Chestnut Seedlings to Forest Management Strategies

Ingram, C.; Bergman, Z.; Griscom, H. 2019.
James Madison University, 100 South Main Street, Harrisonburg, VA

The American chestnut tree (Castanea dentata) was a keystone species in the Appalachian Forest once numbering as many as one and every third tree. Since the accidental introduction of the chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitica),  this iconic tree has become functionally extinct as all efforts to stop the spread of the fungus failed. Efforts to create a resistant chestnut hybrid tree for restoration purposes began in the early 1980s. Our research seeks to identify the most effective forest management strategies for introducing the hybrids into forested ecosystems. Hybrid chestnut (BC3F3) trees were planted in large and small gaps. Within these gaps we also tested the effect of landscape fabric and tree shelters on half of the seedlings within each plot. All plantings had a 2-meter deer fence erected around them. After four years, seedlings planted in the smaller gaps (40% canopy openness) had significantly greater diameter and survival rates than those planted in larger gaps (60% canopy openness). Landscape fabric and tree shelters had no significant effect on seedlings in small gaps. However, in large gaps there was a significant positive effect of landscape fabric on seedling height. We recommend planting seedlings in small gaps without landscape fabric or tree shelters given these findings. If seedlings are planted in large gaps, landscape fabric should be used to deter competition and increase height.

 Cindy’s Winning Poster

3rd Place:  Taylor Evans

Comparing Four Nursery Production Methods on Chestnut Hybrid Seedling Quality

Evans, T.B.; Griscom, H.P. 2019.
James Madison University, Department of Biology, 800 South Main Street, Harrisonburg, VA

Successful restoration of chestnut hybrids is reliant on both genetic resistance to chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitica) and the long-term survival and reproduction of resistant individuals. Producing field-ready seedlings able to survive abiotic stresses and compete effectively with existing vegetation will require a renewed focus on seedling quality assessment. Seedling quality is important for successful restoration projects and nursery propagation techniques can affect seedling morphology to increase the likelihood of survival. Four production methods, bare-root seedlings, seedlings grown in containers, an air-pruning raised bed, and the Root Production Method® (RPM®) will be compared across several measures of seedling health in order to determine which technique produces seedlings most likely to survive out-planting. Propagation techniques that utilize air-pruning, such as the raised-bed and RPM®, have been shown to increase the number of first order lateral roots and overall root volume when compared with bare-root seedlings. Additionally, RPM® has been shown to produce seedlings with greater basal diameter, height, and a lower age at first fruiting than bare-root stock of the same age, though at many times the cost of bare-root seedlings. After one year, seedlings (n ~ 500) will be removed from their growing treatment and measured for height, root collar diameter, number of first-order lateral roots, and root volume to determine overall seedling quality of each treatment. Seedling quality, planting density, and planting costs are all considered when determining the least-cost approach to achieving a desired stocking density with seedling quality often compromised. Total cost per seedling will be determined by tracking labor hours and overhead costs to provide additional information for nurseries and practitioners who would like to produce their own chestnut hybrid seedlings for restoration plantings while making an informed decision on producing the highest quality seedlings possible.

Taylor’s Winning Poster