The Strathmore Speakers Series and Onondaga Free Library’s October 2022 event featured Dakota Matthews, Molecular Lab Manager of SUNY ESF’s American Chestnut Research & Restoration Project. Before the turn of the century, the American chestnut was a significant part of American life. Because it could grow rapidly and attain huge sizes, the tree was often the outstanding visual feature in both urban and rural landscapes. Its wood was used wherever strength and rot-resistance was needed. And its edible nut was a significant contributor to the rural economy. Chestnut ripening coincided with the Thanksgiving-Christmas holiday season, and turn-of-the-century newspaper articles often showed train cars filled to overflowing with chestnuts rolling into major cities to be sold fresh or roasted. But with the introduction of Cryphonectria parasitica, the causal agent of chestnut blight, in the early 1900s, the American chestnut was reduced to a shadow of its former self: not quite extinct; but no longer able to thrive. Now, through the application of cutting-edge biotechnology, SUNY ESF’s American Chestnut Research & Restoration Project has developed a blight-tolerant American chestnut tree and is working to restore this iconic and valuable cultural symbol to the forest ecosystems of the eastern United States. Mr. Matthews will detail this pioneering work, provide an update on where the project currently stands, and outline the project’s ambitious goal of growing ten thousand blight-resistant American chestnut trees over the next five years. A brief Q&A will follow.”
This event was held on Thursday, October 13. Click below to watch the video.