Restoring the American Chestnut


Things got yeah. This novel pathogen ideas terrifying especially when it comes to like with covert. It's got some twenty billion people to work its way through. And the chestnut, almost being jack-of-all-trades in being widespread was probably one of the perfect recipe. Check boxes to say like okay. This is how you have. An invasion meltdown caused the collapse of species. It's scary and it's so sad, but at the same time. Is Much as I've never seen a large chestnut tree, or been able to appreciate them, for what they were were lucky and very fortunate that there are still sprouts there are these these trees are still on the landscape in some capacity. I mean it is kinda functionally extinct. I. Don't know if that's the proper scientific way of putting it, but. There's chestnuts still out there today. Where did the American Chestnut Foundation kind of say? We have to do something. What was the impetus for that and kind of winded it happen, and what was those early stages Kinda like for it? Sure so so functionally extinct. That's that's the term I think for for the American, just not in words Aso a lot of people think it's extinct or endangered or threatened. It's none of those things it doesn't fit any of those categories, because there are so many sprouts out the wild, so it was estimated before billion in the eighteen hundreds at the height of the species population. The blight swept through reduce them to basically sprouts, and the under story so most hardwoods. If you've got them down, they die of the blight bill re sprout. Sprout burn readily just not does that, so they sprout. They get the blake usually by age seven fifteen. They Divac, they re sprout. They get the blame back. They re sprout so so that's what you see in the forest today, the eastern us on their an estimated four, hundred thirty five million trees, so so lot still a lot, but most of them do not reach flowering stage. We think about two million, or so are probably still flowering on somewhere around point, five percent of the population is probably still flowering and producing knots. And that's what's been used at a lot of different breeding programs and eastern us when the blight I went through the USDA's stepped in a sense implant explorers to China to say hey, finding replacement for the great American Chestnut, and so they brought over. Chinese chestnut, so that's about Chinese just nuts on the landscape. They are all over the place. You see them on farms. The USDA real big push for people to plant Chinese chestnuts. My popol planted them on his farm, but they they couldn't replace the just the American chestnut, because they typically they have been bred for Russian. Typically don't grow as tall as the American chestnut. They are very branchy, so the timber isn't as of high quality all as America's. And so that was one of the first attempts to try and save the American chestnut, or restore it or replace it, and then, since then since the thirties on through, people have tried various breeding techniques. They've tried spraying. The fungus was something they've tried systemic fungicides in the fifties when nuclear radiation Israel real huge people were taking chestnuts and throwing them in nuclear reactors to get them to mutate totally serious. And, so you've got plantations of irradiated ulmer radiated chestnuts. Most of them are in Maryland. Okay up ground where a lot of that defense. Stuff was happening, so makes us. That might be another podcast, but but there's this uranium question to try and find resistance within native. American chestnuts and people went pretty much given hope in the seventies and eighties stuff still going on, but at a much lower rate, and in the early eighties there was a corn geneticist Charles Burnham. He said Hey. Trees or plants? Why don't we use plant breeding the we using corn and things like that and use that for trees as well to impart resistance. So, that was the start of the American nomination. Arkham Burnham and some other founders I got together they the various, all nonprofit, scientifically minded organizations and say hey, let's try something called back crossbreeding to get a light resistance, and who the American chestnut and when they started, they thought that blight resistance was very simple traits that it was only two or three genes that controlled this trade, and therefore back crossing would work after you get above three genes back. Crossing really isn't active. The the numbers required too high and astronomical talk about exponential. You need exponentially large. Populations as you increase the number of genes for traits, so it was a it was a noble thought and would that it that be that resistance was only controlled by three. We know now that light resistance is controlled by many martines than three so a while back crossing itself isn't the end all be all American chestnut restoration, TCI the American Chestnut Foundation has embarked on other avenues to try and restore the American chestnut, and but but that was what what began the foundation

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