Anyone for chestnuts?

Whether you roast them on an open fire or grind them up to make a distinctive beer, chestnuts are highly prized and hard to find. The American chestnut was one of the most common and economically important tree species in the forests of eastern North America up until the early 20th Century. Its demise is attributable to the introduction of a fungal disease, the chestnut blight, caused by Cryphonectria parasitica. Over the past 30 years, a team of scientists from 16 U.S. universities, the U.S. Forest Service, the American Chestnut Foundation and the Ontario Horticultural Research Institute has been collaborating to develop varieties of American chestnut that are resistant to the disease and new management practices to reduce impacts of the disease on stands of chestnut trees, and to better understand how a virus that infects the fungus can be used to protect chestnut stands. The team members’ integrative and collaborative approach earned them the Excellence in Multi-state Research Award from the United States Department of Agriculture recently at the annual conference of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). Michigan State University has been involved in the project from the outset and has provided leadership for the group in the work of Dr. Dennis Fulbright, professor of plant pathology. The official name of the group is NE-1033, Biological Improvement of Chestnut Through Technologies that Address Management of the Species, its Pathogens and Pests. Congratulations to Dennis and the team for their recognition, and thanks for working to ensure that one day these majestic trees will be restored as the “Redwoods of the East” in Michigan and other eastern forests.

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