Scholars from around the world will gather in West Virginia to discuss the health of one of our most majestic native trees, the American Chestnut.

West Virginia University will partner with the International Society of Horticultural Sciences, the American Chestnut Foundation and the United States Department of Agriculture to host the fifth International Chestnut Symposium Sept. 4-8 at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown.

WVU has played a major role in the scientific understanding of chestnut and its associated problems for more than three decades by bringing together scientists from across the world to discuss research. WVU hosted the first symposium in 1978 and again in 1992. The 2012 meeting in Shepherdstown will host 100 individuals from nine countries and more than 40 universities and agencies in the United States. There are 67 oral and poster presentations on the program.

Research progress covered at the symposium will include pests and pathogens, breeding and genetics, the Forest Health Initiative, food science, ecology and reforestation, and propagation and orchard management. Chestnut growers from as far away as Australia will also attend the event.

“In the first session, we’ll have papers dealing with chestnut blight by scholars from Switzerland, Caucasian Georgia, and the Ukraine along with the USA,” said Mark Double, a research assistant in WVU’s Division of Plant and Soil Sciences. “The second session focuses on the gall wasp, an invasive insect that causes problems in chestnuts world-wide.

“The third session deals with molecular aspects, and we have papers on breeding chestnuts in the USA and Canada along with the genetics of ink disease, another chestnut pathogen,” Double said. “The fourth session features five interconnected papers, all dealing with forest tree restoration, and the fifth session deals with a variety of issues from outplanting chestnuts in the forest to fruit characteristics of chestnuts in the Slovak Republic.”

Multi-state research into improvement and preservation of the American Chestnut, led by William MacDonald in the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, has been recognized for excellence by the Association of Public Land-Grant Universities.

The American chestnut was among the most valuable trees in eastern North American forests, spanning from southern Ontario to northern Florida. Chestnut blight, a disease caused by the fungus Cryphonectria parasitica, eliminated the American chestnut as a canopy

“Remarkably, in the more than 30 years since the first iteration of this project, there is real hope for a significant recovery of the American chestnut,” MacDonald said. “This ongoing multistate project has played a major role in effecting and documenting that recovery, while contributing outstanding basic and applied science to our knowledge base.”

For more information on the symposium, please contact Mark Double at 304-293-9277 or, or visit the symposium web site at



CONTACT: David Welsh; Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design

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