Scientists think they may have developed a chestnut tree resistant to the blight so that three can be re-introduced into American forests.
In the early 2000s, they were first able to genetically engineer a chestnut embryo; the related paper was published in 2006 — the same year the first transgenic chestnut was planeted outside of the lab. Following that they developed a line of chestnuts called Darling 4, which seems to be a bit less resistant to the blight than Chinese chestnuts, but still much better than a regular American chestnut. Last summer, they planted one of those trees at the New York Botanical Garden, not far from where the blight was first discovered.
But they wanted even higher levels of resistance yet, and now they think they might have done it: a transgenic line of chestnuts, more resistant to the blight than even the Chinese trees. The team, lead by then-graduate student Amelia Bo Zhang, published their results in Trangenic Research in March. Earlier this month, they planted these trees at the Lafayette Road Experiment Station — the first American chestnuts on this Earth that are highly resistant to the blight.
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