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SEBS Virtual Science Cafe: Learning from chestnut blight to control plant diseases.
Bradley Hillman, PhD
Department of Plant Biology

Chestnut blight is arguably the most important plant disease pandemic in modern times. Once dominating eastern US forests, the American Chestnut tree is now functionally extinct due to a fungus introduced from Asia in the late 1800’s. Despite heroic efforts to control its spread, by 1950 the fungus had virtually wiped out the universally susceptible populations of native chestnut and chinquapin throughout eastern North America, forever changing the landscapes and ecosystems. In the wake of the pandemic, restoration efforts have included disease resistance through traditional breeding and transgenic tree development, and biological control of the fungus, primarily with viruses that infect and debilitate the fungus. Although biological control of chestnut blight has not been completely successful, research on the fungus has been valuable to help us understand the viruses of fungi, their ecology and evolutionary biology, and their potential as biocontrol agents of plant pathogens.

Mar 29, 2022 11:30 AM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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