Sunday, January 9, 2011

Chestnut blight and the good virus

The latest update on the Smokies Dispatches from the Field page is about the chestnut blight and the "good virus".

In the 1940s the chestnut blight, a fungus accidentally introduced from Asia, killed an estimated four billion American chestnut trees nationwide. Before the blight, roughly one third of all the trees in the Great Smoky Mountains were chestnuts. Today, even single spindly saplings are rare.

Scientists are now investigating an organism, known as a hypovirus, that may help trees overcome the deadly chestnut blight. You can read more about this research project by clicking here.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I hope that this virus spreads so that the American Chestnut can return to its dominant position in eastern forests. On the comment that saplings are rare, I believe this is a false statement. When I thru-hiked the AT in '09, I saw hundreds of shoots right off the trail. Especially in Virginia in Shenandoah's. I also saw a couple full sized trees that weren't affected by the blight. One just south of Harper's Ferry, WV and another near Duncannon, PA. If this virus can somehow be spread across vast reaches of the smokies, I think the root stock of these remaining saplings will hold on and we will see these trees return before we know it.