Once upon a time … the American chestnut dominated the forests of the Appalachian Range. As many as four billion of these trees abided the centuries providing habitat, nutrifying soil, and feeding bears, birds, and boars on an abundance of nuts. Alas, that was before 1904, when a parasitic fungus was introduced, unleashing a devastating blight that decimated the population. In only a few decades, more than 90% of American chestnuts were lost. Worse yet, most remaining trees are root sprouts – clones of other trees – and therefore just as susceptible to the blight as previous generations.
But there is hope (through science!). A century later, efforts to find a blight-resistant American chestnut and return the iconic tree to its native forests are making strides.
Fight the blight with geneticist Dr. Jared Westbrook! Learn how controlled breeding, hybridization with blight-resistant species, and transgenic insertion (aka bio-wizardry) are contributing to restoring the American chestnut.
Dr. Westbrook is Director of Science for the American Chestnut Foundation, where he has spent nearly a decade combing genomes for genes that confer blight resistance and assessing the tens of thousands of trees that are bred, crossed, and backcrossed at the Foundation’s Meadowview Research Farms.
Doors open at 6:00. Have a drink with old friends, meet new ones, and get ready for some serious science in a seriously un-serious setting.
Presentation begins at 7:00 PM. Stick around for a lively Q&A session and discussion.