China Expedition Follow-up Meeting

10/23/08, 5:30 pm
Sheraton Reed House, Chattanooga, TN

Attendees:  Dr. Kim Steiner, Mrs. Susie Steiner, Dr. Fred Hebard, Dr. Hill Craddock, Dr. Bob Paris, Dr. Shawn Yarnes, Dr. Songlin Fei, Dr. Fred Paillet, Dr. Larry Brasher, Mrs. Louise Brasher, Mr. Will White, Dr. Al Ellingboe, Mrs. Ann Ellingboe, Ms. Sara Fitzsimmons.  Notes were taken by Sara

The group that travelled to China in September 2008 met during the 25th Anniversary TACF Annual Meeting in order to discuss ways to follow-up with their Chinese hosts.

 1.        Exchange genetic materials
            There is a desire to receive material from China as well as to plant TACF material in China.

a.        Material from CHina

  i.      Additional sources of resistance

1.       Castanea henryi – We would like to make collections of C. henryi from at least two of the locations we visited: Dalaoling (especially at Dr. Zehao Shen’s plot) and from Nangongshan

2.       Castanea segunii – We would like to make collections of C. seguinii from at least two of the locations we visited: Dalaoling (especially at Dr. Zehao Shen’s plot) and from Nangongshan

3.       Castanea mollissima

a.       We would like to make collections of C. mollissima that are known to be from wild  sources.  Based on our observations while in China, these collections would primarily be from Nangongshan.

b.      No Castanea mollissima from Dalaoling – Since it appeared that most of the Chinese chestnuts of Dalaoling were naturalized specimens, our group has agreed that we are not interested in obtaining this material.

ii.      Northern Sources - In northern China, there are “extensions” of the Castanea mollissima and Castanea seguinii ranges that extend north of the range of Castanea henryi

(see figure below).  It is desirable to have representatives of this material so as to possibly extend the range of adaptability of TACF-bred material.  These are outside the areas we visited, but we could send out requests for this type of material through our hosts.

image here


b. TACF/American chestnut Material to China – There was interest by our hosts in China, especially in Dalaoling, to have some of our material to plant.  Dr. Songlin Fei has noted that there is a botanical area in Dalaoling where our hosts had noted plantings could be established.
 i.      TACF hybrid material - It would be desirable to plant TACF advanced hybrid material in at least one location in order to test the durability of its resistance in an area of extreme diversity of Cryphonectria parasitica.

ii.      Non-hybridized American chestnut material - It would also be desirable to plant American chestnut trees in at least one location.  By planting these “trap trees” it would be possible to observe the potential of blight infection within any given area.  Planting these trees in more locations could also enhance the goals of observing the diversity of native pathogen populations as described below in number 4.

iii.      A common garden type project of planting Chinese species (all three species), hybrid material (f1 to f3b2), and American species in both US and China.


II.  Forest history analysis and reconstruction

Dr. Fred Paillet has connections to a tree ring laboratory at the University of Arkansas.  Using those resources, the group agreed that it would be of interest to reconstruct a history of one or more sites using tree ring analysis.

a.       Such a project could be analogous to work at Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest

b.      Observe response of chestnut to various factors

i.      Some  trees at Zehao’s plot were upwards of 150 years old

ii.      Much disturbance and select cuts throughout years; as late as 1980s

iii.      Compare chestnut response in disturbed areas vs. that in “pristine areas” and/or those that were clear-cut.

c.       Observe how chestnut is distributed to the plot


III.  Observation and analysis of the blight fungus in China

With the help of Dr. He Wei at Beijing Forestry University[1], our group would like to collaborate on a project to observe and analyze several traits of Cryphonectria parasitica populations in China.  There has been a good deal of work in China looking at plant diversity but not as much with fungal/pathogen diversity.  This path of research could bring a new angle to research with our hosts.

a.       Observe basic morphology of fungus and document possible variations

b.      Look for evidence of hypovirulence

1.       Presence/absence of dsRNA

2.      Excised stem test and/or

3.       Apple test

c.       Observe diversity of vegetative compatibility types

1.       Possible collaboration with Dr. Michael Milgroom at Cornell University



1.        Write up notes (done!)

2.       Songlin to make contact with Dr. Lu to determine potential for collaboration and to discuss possible ideas for future research

3.       Determine possibility for importing material from China into the US

a.       What do we do to import seed?  Contact ARS about APHIS forms, permits etc.

b.      How do we get it out of China?  Must find out if there are export controls.

c.       From where and with whose help do we collect seed?

4.       Written Research Proposal by the team by April Board and Cabinet Meetings of TACF

a.       Characteristics of material we’d like to import.

b.      What we’d like to plant, where and how.

5.       Fred H. will draft part of the proposal outlining what we’d like to study with regard to Cryphonectria parasitica populations and how that study could be achieved.

6.       Fred P. will draft part of the proposal for reconstructing plot histories by using tree ring data.

7.       Sara will draft an article for incorporation into Spring edition of the Journal of TACF

a.       It should include Zehao’s plot data summary

i.      Sara will need to request an aggregate of the rest of Zehao’s data

1.       Songlin has contacted and received data (posted below).


From Songlin:

-          The overall basal area from Zehao's plot is 177.1 sq ft/ ac with a density of 1506 trees (>2cm) / ac.

-          I wrote to Drs. Shen, He, and Lu, they all willing to work with us on future projects. Dr. Lu has been working on Castanea genotype selection (mainly for nut production) over a decades and he is planning to study their genetic diversity to serve as the base for future selection.

[1] Songlin contacted Dr. He in late October to confirm interest in working on a project.