Monday, December 30, 2019

PA/NJ Chapter - American Chestnut Foundation Highlights Upcoming Spring Growers Meeting, Greenhouse Planting Days, PA Farm Show

The PA/NJ Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation recently highlighted several important upcoming events, including the March 21 Growers Meeting, Penn State Greenhouse Planting Days and the Pennsylvania Farm Show display.
PA Farm Show Display - Jan. 4 - 11
Check out the PA/NJ Chapter’s display at the 2020 PA Farm Show in Harrisburg from January 4-11.  The display is in the Main Hall - West of the Farm Show Building right next to the Christmas Tree display.   Click Here for more information.
Penn State Planting Days - Jan. 9 & 10
On January 9-10 the Penn State Chestnut Orchard will hold a seed planting from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Forest Resource Lab Greenhouse at University Drive and Hastings Road in State College.
Come take a break from the cold and help restore the American Chestnut!
Growers Meeting - March 21
The Spring Growers Meeting will be held March 21 at Penn State Harrisburg in Middletown, Dauphin County from 8:30 to 2:30 at the Education Activities Building North on College Avenue.
Featured speakers include--
-- Marc McDill, Associate Professor of Forest Management, Penn State University, on Climate Change and Pennsylvania’s Forests: This talk reviews how Pennsylvania’s climate is changing and how it is projected to change in the future. It discusses how Pennsylvanians in general, and Pennsylvania’s forests in particular, are likely to be affected in the coming decades. Finally, it discusses the role forests can play in mitigating climate change and how we can help Pennsylvania’s forests increase their ability to adapt to the changing climate.
-- Jason Delborne, Associate Professor of Science, Policy and Society, Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, North Carolina State University - Forest Health and Biotechnology: Possibilities and Considerations: The American chestnut, white bark pine, and several species of ash in the eastern United States are just a few of the North American tree species that have been functionally lost or are in jeopardy of being lost due to outbreaks of pathogens and insect pests. 
Biotechnology has the potential to help mitigate threats to North American forests from insects and pathogens through the introduction of pest-resistant traits to forest trees. 
However, challenges remain: the genetic mechanisms that underlie trees’ resistance to pests are poorly understood, the complexity of tree genomes makes incorporating genetic changes a slow and difficult task, and there is a lack of information on the effects of releasing new genotypes into the environment. 
The report recommends research and investment to improve the utility of biotechnology as a forest health tool.  Click Here to download free PDF.
Dr. Delborne served on this committee as a social scientist who focuses on public and stakeholder engagement about emerging biotechnologies. He has also conducted research funded by the National Science Foundation on the specific case of the genetically engineered American chestnut tree. 
In this presentation, he will review the major findings of the NASEM report and provide a summary of his research on the social, political, and ethical aspects of the GE American chestnut tree.
-- Jared Westbrook, Director of Science The American Chestnut Foundation - The Evolving Effort to Restore the American Chestnut: For 30 years, The American Chestnut Foundation has pursued backcross breeding to generate hybrids that have the blight resistance of Chinese chestnut and the timber-type form of American chestnut. 
The backcross strategy is based on the hypothesis that blight resistance is conferred by few genes. Recent genomics research has revealed that resistance is controlled by many genes. As a consequence, blight resistance is has been partially diluted through backcrossing. 
Based on these results, TACF is advancing additional backcross lines through fewer backcross generations to balance blight resistance with American chestnut characteristics. 
Pending U.S. regulatory approval, we also plan to breed transgenic blight-tolerant American chestnut trees to wild American chestnuts over three to five generations to diversify the transgenic population for restoration. 
Third, we are pursuing genomics research to identify genes that underlie blight resistance in Chinese chestnut with the intent of introducing or modifying corresponding genes in American chestnut with CRISPR technology. 
With these approaches, pursued independently and in combination, we remain hopeful about prospects of creating a genetically diverse, blight resistant population of American chestnut for restoration in eastern forests.
Click Here to register or for more information on the Spring Growers Meeting.
For more information on programs, initiatives, other upcoming events and how you can get involved, visit the PA/NJ Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation website.  Like them on FacebookClick Here to sign up for the Chapter newsletter.

(Reprinted from the latest PA/NJ Chapter newsletterClick Here to sign up for your own copy.)
[Posted: December 30, 2019]

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