Conservation - Genetic Research

Photo of a determined and hopeful-looking Dr. Charles Burnham.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) experimented with cross breeding of Asian, European and American chestnuts to breed an American chestnut resistant to blight from the 1930's through 1959. But unfortunately, these projects were based on genetic theories that did not apply to this situation. They incorrectly assumed that there was a high number of genes responsible for blight resistance, while we now believe that the number of responsible genes is low.

In the 1970's, Dr. Charles Burnham noticed the error. That is why, in 1983, Dr. Burnham and others founded The American Chestnut Foundation whose sole purpose is to breed an American chestnut resistant to blight.