ME and VT/NH Chapters coordinate to advance chestnut restoration!

On August 24-25, 2021 Maine Chapter VP, Tom Klak, and VT/NH Chapter President, Doug McLane, once again combined efforts to move American chestnut restoration forward. They checked the condition of hundreds of chestnut flowers at Cape Elizabeth, Maine that they had pollinated earlier with transgenic pollen. This was one more important step in the transgenic chestnut experiment underway at the University of New England (UNE) through Dr. Klak’s leadership. His work is closely coordinated with the College of Forestry and Environmental Science at SUNY Syracuse where the transgenic chestnut was developed.

When the pollinated nuts mature they will be harvested and each one painstakingly analyzed to determine which ones have inherited the transgenic tree’s oxidase enzyme that will allow the next generation to tolerate chestnut blight. About half of the nuts typically inherit the gene.

All TACF Chapters are actively locating nut-producing wild American chestnuts and planting their nuts in Germplasm Conservation Orchards. Trees grown from these nuts will be pollinated with transgenic pollen once it is approved for distribution by Federal agencies. Dr. Klak’s work at UNE is tightly controlled under strict USDA permits.

Pollinating and harvesting hundreds of chestnuts is difficult and labor intensive work. Tom and Doug’s efforts are greatly appreciated!.