Dr. Thomas Klak discusses transgenic restoration process at virtual annual meeting

We are at a promising moment in American chestnut restoration. This presentation will describe recent progress emanating from labs and greenhouses at the University of New England (UNE), and from the essential and sustained collaborations among the American Chestnut Foundation chapters in northern New England. At UNE, we’ve been able to produce quantities of transgenic blight-tolerant pollen from seedlings in about one year through high-intensity speed-breeding. In the Summer of 2020, under USDA permits, that transgenic pollen was crossed with wild trees in seven locations across the native range (including Vermont and Maine) to yield more than 5,000 fertile nuts. The plan for this summer is to expand the field pollination in terms of both quantity and geographic range. We will also outplant New England’s first transgenic seedling orchard, where we will assess transgenic performance against a range of controls (eg non-transgenic full sibs and Chinese hybrids). As you can see, there is much progress while we await federal deregulation of the blight-tolerant chestnut.

View the video of the presentation here