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Restoring the American Chestnut


The American Chestnut was once one of the most important trees in the Eastern US. It was important to wildlife as a food source and to people for a variety of uses. In the early 1900’s an imported Japanese Chestnut tree carried a fungus to which American trees had no immunity. It devastated the native Chestnuts. How can science offer a solution to this problem? Students will study how biotechnology is being used to develop a blight resistant tree. They will engage in hands-on activities that have students apply their knowledge of DNA and genetics to simulate the steps needed to find the genes for resistance and insert them into an American Chestnut tree. Lessons are designed to be used for any level of Biology student and do not require high tech equipment.

Lessons correspond to the following Biology Goals:

  • Goal 2 – Describe the structure and function of cell organelles as well as the function of proteins and nucleic acids
  • Goal 3.03 – Interpret and predict patterns of inheritance including independent assortment and Punnett squares.
  • Goal 3.04 – Human genome project
    Applications of transgenic organisms
  • Gel electrophoresis as a technique to separate molecules based on size, with the understanding results and general process.
  • Goal 4.01 – Compare eukaryotic kingdoms (fungi and plants) emphasizing the methods of getting food
  • Goal 4.02 – Transport in vascular plants
  • Goal 5.03: - Assess human population and its impact on local ecosystems, in particular, the introduction of a non-native species