GES Colloquium: Andy Newhouse - Transgenic American chestnuts for forest restoration
GES COLLOQUIUM: Transgenic American chestnuts for potential forest restoration: scientific successes, regulatory challenges
Andy Newhouse, PhD Student at the SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry
See announcement: https://mailchi.mp/a05735a4c0ee/gescolloquium4242018
April 24, 2018, 12 PM
Learn more at GES Colloquium Information: https://research.ncsu.edu/ges/events/colloquiums/#Newhouse
Abstract: The American chestnut was once an integral part of eastern US deciduous forests, with many environmental, economic, and social values. This ended with the introduction of an invasive fungal pathogen causing chestnut blight, which wiped out over three billion trees across their native range. Transgenic American chestnuts expressing a wheat gene for oxalate oxidase (OxO) successfully tolerate blight infections. The OxO enzyme breaks down oxalic acid, a toxin produced by the blight fungus, but it does not harm the fungus itself. Restoring American chestnuts to their native environments could benefit people and ecosystems, but transgenic forest trees have not been previously released or extensively studied in the US.
Environmental interactions, federal regulatory review processes, public responses, and other considerations are largely unique for forest trees compared to the agricultural systems where genetically engineered plants have been deployed to date. In particular, regulations heretofore employed to govern plant-incorporated pesticides in annual crops present unique challenges, since this transgene product is not specifically pesticidal and the long-lived trees would be intended to outcross with wild relatives. This presentation will include natural history of chestnuts, scientific progress in creating and testing a blight-tolerant American chestnut tree, regulatory progress to date, and considerations for responsibly using genetic engineering to address environmental problems.