Chestnut Blight and American Chestnut Trees

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Chestnut Blight and American Chestnut Trees

Since the early 1900's a disease known as Chestnut Blight has infected many American Chestnut trees and causing their removal from forests. A greater look at the history of this fungus as well as the mechanisms of action will allow us to learn on how to preserve the American chestnut. At one point, the American chestnut was virtually eliminated. With the help of government acts and conservation agencies, the American chestnut is slowly growing back in population. Two methods of restoration of the chestnut include a hybridization and the use of hypovirulant strains. This issue shows a variety of interest from ecologists to those in the timber industry who cannot lumber Asian species of chestnut primarily because of their size.

In the 1880's a harmful fungus known as blight, inhabited the United States from imported Japanese chestnut trees. Blight quickly spread, killing chestnuts and chinquapins, which is another species of chestnut that produces 1 nut per bur. In 1904, Chestnut blight appeared infecting trees in New York City and spread at a rate of 20-50 miles per year. By 1906, W.A. Murrill reported that this disease is known to occur in New Jersey, Maryland, District of Columbia, and Virginia. In 1912, the Planet Quarantine Act was passed to reduce the chances of plant deterioration or devastation prevention. Chestnut Blight or Chestnut Bark Disease was originally found in 1904 and within 50 years, it spread across the eastern United States, from Maine to Georgia and as far west as the edge of Michigan. By 1950, the American chestnut was essentially eliminated as a forest tree. In 1972, importation from Italy gave a biological control in which a virus helped prevent the blight f...

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...thesis does, however, lack experimental evidence of any kind.

The American chestnut which was once almost eliminated from existence in the late 1950's has once again emerged thanks to conservation efforts. Chestnut blight, a deadly fungus, has the ability to kill chestnut trees. However, some chestnut species in Asia have resistance to blight. As a result, a method of conservation has been through hybridizing American species with Asian species. Another method of conservation has been through hypovirulence strains in the infection is reduced. Independently, this hypovirulence method may be a reason why some American chestnuts are surviving despite being infested with chestnut blight. This issue remains important to both the timber industry, although that isn't why chestnuts are being restored, and certain ecological organizations including the Nature Conservancy.

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