Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Saving the American Chestnut Seems to Be Working but So Slowly - Science

Mature chestnut trees often grew straight and branch-free for 50 feet and could grow up to 100 feet tall with a trunk diameter of 14 feet at a few feet above ground level. For three centuries many barns and homes near the Appalachian Mountains were made from American chestnut and the trees provided untold tons of food for wildlife and humans.

Credit: American Chestnut Foundation

The nearly century-old effort to employ selective breeding to rescue the American chestnut, which has been rendered functionally extinct by an introduced disease, Chestnut blight, and eventually will succeed, but it will take longer than many people expect.

That is the gist of findings from a new study conducted by a research team composed of scientists from Penn State, The American Chestnut Foundation and State University of New York. This research should tamp down expectations of both the public and some members of the science community that victory is imminent, but it also provides reassurance that the rescue ultimately will result in chestnuts flourishing in forests again, according to lead author Kim Steiner, professor of forest biology, Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences.  American chestnut rescue will succeed, but slower than expected

You see above that the recovery is succeeding and the interested student is invited to review the details of that but we're going to jump around it by saying they're using the classic Luther Burbank method of hybridization to bring the American Chestnut back.  He's another of America's finest but whom many don't know.  (WIKI:  Luther Burbank)

Ed:  if he played baseball they would know him!

Yah, yah but we're not playing that just now since we're thinking it's time for the CRISPR kit.

The regulars have heard of CRISP previously since it's the Swiss Army Knife for geneticists who like screwing with a genome to modify it in a mechanical sense.

To reach their conclusions, researchers reviewed and evaluated decades of breeding records and transgenic experiments, new experimental data, and made projections related to how recurrent selection and incorporation of transgenic material into breeding lines will expedite blight resistance. They considered experimentally based estimates of heritability and genetic gain for blight resistance that were never available before this research was conducted.

- PO

As you may have inferred, they're trying to hybridize the American Chestnut with another which carries genes to resist the Chestnut blight.  As you see from the design goal of the project, they're trying to accomplish the same thing as can be done with CRISPR.

Ed:  you're a damn Horror of Horticultural Heresy!  Be gone, damn you; be gone!

Ooh, I'm starting to get excited.  I haven't been called that previously.

The Rockhouse sees that which is a potentially expeditious means for solution of the problem but we don't see much (i.e. zero) heresy.

Ed:  GMO kills things!

Monsanto kills things whereas GMO is the same recombination of DNA which nature does anyway.  Sometimes it jokes and sometimes it croaks but that's how evolution has always worked.

CRISPR isn't the problem; using it badly or unwisely is the problem.

No comments: