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Wheat Gene Increases Blight Resistance of American Chestnut Trees
Monday, 2015/01/12 | 08:29:09

Researchers from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and scientists from The American Chestnut Foundation have confirmed that the addition of a wheat gene increases the blight resistance of American chestnut trees.


Chestnut blight is caused by the fungus Cryphonectria parasitica. Part of the reason why it is so virulent is because it produces oxalate, which causes chestnut tissues to rot. According to Tim Tschaplinski of ORNL's Energy and Environmental Sciences Directorate, they found that the wheat gene kept oxalic acid (oxalate) concentration from accumulating, and the only substantial difference from non-resistant trees was a slightly lower level of gamma-tocopherol, a form of vitamin E. The wheat gene breaks down oxalate, helping to limit the deadly effects caused by the fungus.


"If you can stop the microbe from accumulating oxalate, you can definitely slow the disease progression," Tschaplinski said.

For more, read: http://www.ornl.gov/ornl/news/features/2014/chestnuts-roasting-on-an-open-fire.

Figure: American chestnuts could once again be roasting on open fires instead of Chinese and European varieties. (iStockPhoto)


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