‘Artificial immunity’ could save the American chestnut from extinction
Environment Conservation Climate Change

‘Artificial immunity’ could save the American chestnut from extinction

Sri Harsha Adusumilli
Sri Harsha Adusumilli

In 10 seconds:  Researchers have introduced an engineered gene into American chestnut trees to help resist the fungus that nearly wiped them out by the middle of the last century… and potentially brings them back.

What’s the story? The American chestnut (Castanea Dentata), an important tree species in the USA and Canada, was once dominating large swathes of land in North America. But at the turn of the 20th century, a Fungal pathogen Cryphonectria Parasitaca introduced from Asia unleashed havoc on forests. About 90% of the population (4-5 billion trees) was decimated by this fungal blight! After almost trying everything, researchers have turned to ‘synthetic biology’ for a solution to bring pull the mighty chestnut out of ‘functional extinction’.

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