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NE-1333 Meeting at Cataloochee Ranch in Maggie Valley, NC

Attendees pose for a group picture (see key below)

Cataloochee Guest Ranch in Maggie Valley, NC, was the venue for the annual meeting of chestnut scientists, now in its 35th year. First organized to facilitate research in hypovirulence, it expanded over the years to include all aspects of chestnut science. Participants from as far away as Portugal gave talks on their current research, which spanned the gamut of topics from genetic mapping and transgenic methods to using bees to gather a pure sample of chestnut pollen. Graduate students also got to present their work in a small, supportive setting, some for the first time.

Dr. Paul Sisco led a tour of the Carolinas Chapter seed orchard in Edneyville, NC

On Friday afternoon, the group travelled to the USDA Forest Service’s Bent Creek Experiment Station in Asheville, where Dr. Jared Westbrook and Ben Jarrett of TACF led a tour of chestnut seedlings that are being screened for resistance to chestnut blight and Phytophthora root rot.  Dr. Westbrook was able to present an analysis of blight resistance based on canker length that had been measured only two days before the meeting!  The group next travelled to Edneyville, NC, where Dr. Paul Sisco of the Carolinas Chapter led a tour of the chapter seed orchard, showcasing Clapper-derived B3F2 trees that looked promising as candidates for blight resistance.

One of the most important aspects of this annual meeting is the opportunity to share results, techniques, and unpublished information and to develop collaborative projects.  At the request of meeting organizer Dr. Hill Craddock, Asheville’s Highland Brewery provided a gift of IPA and Gaelic Ale, while Cataloochee Guest Ranch owner and host Judy Coker made sure the meals and evening recreation were top-notch.  Last, but not least, the weather was magnificent. Next year the meeting will be in State College, PA, sponsored by Dr. John Carlson of The Pennsylvania State University.

Group picture (l to r, beginning at bottom row): Linda McGuigan, SUNY-ESF, Syracuse, NY; Didi Ren, Mississippi State University; Kristen Hein, University of TN at Chattanooga; Jared Westbrook, TACF Director of Science; John Carlson, The Pennsylvania State University; Cameron Strauder, West Virginia University; Rita Costa, Forestry Research Station, INRB-Portugal; Hill Craddock, University of TN at Chattanooga; Angus Dawe, Mississippi State University; Taylor Perkins, University of TN at Chattanooga; Laurel Rodgers, Shenandoah University, Winchester, VA; David Morris, TACF Alabama Chapter; Tatyana Zhebentyayeva, Clemson University; Dakota Matthews, SUNY-ESF, Syracuse, NY; Ben Jarrett, TACF Southern Regional Science Coordinator; Paul Sisco, TACF Carolinas Chapter; Fred Hebard, TACF Virginia Chapter; Albert “Bert” Abbott, University of KY and The Pennsylvania State University; William MacDonald, West Virginia University; Don Nuss, University of MD, Emeritus; Steve Jeffers, Clemson University