TACF’s Dr. Paul Sisco Spreads the Word about the American Chestnut
On Thursday, March 30, former TACF Scientist Dr. Paul Sisco gave an invited talk to about 150 students and faculty at North Carolina State University. The Mason Pharr Seminar, given annually, is funded by an endowment and administered by graduate students in several departments in the College of Agriculture. It included tours of Horticulture projects and a potluck dinner at the home of the department head.
Dr. Sisco gave an overview of TACF’s efforts to introduce resistance to chestnut blight and Phytophthora cinnamomi root rot to American chestnut by both backcross breeding and the use of the oxalate oxidase gene from wheat. He also discussed the Minelands Restoration project as a way of restoring disease-resistant American chestnuts in large numbers.
In the afternoon before the lecture, Dr. Sisco was interviewed by Lise Jenkins of Triangle Gardener for a future podcast (air date unknown).
The visit was special to Dr. Sisco, because he was a faculty member at NC State from 1983 – 1997, and several of his former colleagues were in attendance at the Seminar. One of them, Dr. Ron Sederoff, was recently awarded the Marcus Wallenberg Prize in Forestry for his efforts to use molecular biology for forest tree improvement. Dr. Sederoff headed up the Fagaceae Genomics Project of the National Science Foundation from 2006 – 2009, which was the first major effort to develop molecular tools that would be of use to The American Chestnut Foundation’s efforts.