Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
American chestnut trees are “technically extinct” (timeline.com)
294 points by mixmastamyk on Jan 25, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 120 comments

Good news! this article understates the current stage of development for at least one of the reintroduction projects.

A blight resistance gene (oxalate oxidase) has been added by state university researchers in new york. The genetically modified trees are being crossed with pure-bred chestnuts for improved genetic diversity before wider distribution. http://www.esf.edu/chestnut/

The plan is to distribute seeds from these trees within 5 years through a partnership between SUNY-ESF and the NY chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation.

I've committed to planting at least 4500 of these trees (interspersed across 60+ acres) in their native forest setting once available. If you care about the chestnut or ecology but agroforestry isn't your thing, these organizations could really use donations to ensure this project continues.

How do I commit to planting some of these trees? And what climates can they grow in (I'm just north of the border in Canada).

I would also like to know this!

Join and donate to the American Chestnut Foundation, http://www.acf.org. You can get a sapling for a donation of $400 or so.

Only if your are East of the Mississippi.

I don't know if it understates the status of these new breeds. They haven't been proven, yet. It could be 50 years before it's clear that they are resistant.

My parents are also doing this on their property, it is exciting, and I hope this new breed is resistant to the fungus.

From lab-scale plants it's clear that they are at least as resistant as the chinese chestnut the fungus is from. http://www.esf.edu/chestnut/resistance.htm

Of course the proof is a forest of full grown trees, but there's every reason to expect this method will get us there.

You can be pretty certain the plants they've got are extremely resistant.

They designed a brand new type of testing for resistance to be able to make the progress they've made as quickly as they have. Instead of testing a whole tree they can effectively test blight resistance on a single leaf, allowing their time between generations to be measured in weeks rather than years. (Time to first leaf, rather than time to whole tree).

I hope that you and they are correct, of course. While reading through the information the NY organization had sent, it just appeared that they were less certain than that.

I am very excited. What was strange is that in order to accept the trees, you had to agree to an entire set of restrictions. You can not sell any nuts was one; another was you must cut down the tree if you ever sell your property, I suppose there is an exception if the new owner also signs onto to the agreement. Seemed a little awkward, but still worth it.

This is excellent - as someone who grew up wandering in the east coast forests, the chestnut is a real loss. (some estimates say that at one point the forests of CT were as much as 80% chestnut).

Where specifically should we donate? Can we donate labor as well?

My parents have three (living) chestnuts on their property (I guess the blight missed them because the trees have been there for a very long time). Those chestnut burs are a real headache. If you ever make the mistake of stepping on one, you'll be pulling needles out of your foot for a while (imagine stepping on a sea urchin). Cleaning them up is also a pain (make a mistake and they'll go straight through leather gloves). I can't imagine if 4 out of 5 trees I saw dropped those things.

I loved playing chestnut/oak nuts as a kid. You can make all kinds of human/animal figures from the nuts! It's was a treasure trove of endless play for kids who didn't have access to ready made toys.

Like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcyJOIQ8q_4

I remember reading somewhere that the high percentage of chestnut was likely due cultivation / encouragement of growth by Native Americans. I think it was in the book 1491. A plausible theory but hard to prove, I guess.

I think I read that, too. Makes some sense since among the trees in the northeast it is the only one that produces an edible mast crop. Definitely better than acorns.

The northeast has quite a variety of mast crops: Shagbark hickory, black walnut, butternut, beech (my favorite roasted but very small) and to a lesser extent hazelnut. But in its time the chestnut was by far the most consistent and prolific producer.

And an honorable mention to black cherry, a tree of the region with edible fruit.

Funny, in CT we had a bunch of these in our yard, but they never bore any fruit in our yard. We had some in Walla Walla where I went to college that would make so many you eat cherries for every meal for weeks.

Wow! Not every day that Walla Walla makes HN. Yes we have lovely trees here. There are several chestnut trees in the public parks, and I've long been curious to know if being in the west whether these trees avoided the blight, or are a different variety of chestnut.

Whitman? Or local?

How did you commit to planting the trees? Is that an organized program?

I'm going to choose to belive that the commenter is planing a heist to plant all of the seeds in the forest by themselves in a Robinhood fashion. They're asking for donations because they're going to hit the vault on their way out.

If you are going to make that joke, the correct reference is Johnny Appleseed: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Appleseed

My good friend helps run that program :).

Hey, I think we know the same guy ;)

Just texted him just in case he wants to do an AMA ;)

Really good nes! I just wanna buy such new seeds now, is it possible?

OK, response from my friend: The timeline for release is roughly equal to "however long it takes him to finish his PhD" (since the EPA/USDA paperwork and red tape cutting is more or less his thesis). The seeds you can get from the ACF are not as resistant as what ESF is producing, but they're legal.

They're still waiting for the approvals they need to introduce GMOs into the wild. They can't legally distribute them as far as I know.

Looks like I was wrong about at least one of the blight resistant seeds, join the ACF to buy a few: http://acf.donorshops.com/product/C60EB65/2017chestnutseedle...

Currently limited to the part of the US that's east of the Mississippi.

There are several stands of genetically-pure American chestnut on the West Coast that remain because they were isolated from the blight. These were trees imported by settlers and arborists in the 19th century—they should remain protected!

The entire natural range of the American chestnut was east of the Mississippi.

Unfortunate that most of HN's reader base is in CA.


I doubt that is true anymore. Maybe 1/3?

How long do they take to grow big?

Chestnuts grow much more quickly than other hardwoods, like oaks. They reach maybe 10 feet(3m) in 3 years? They start producing nuts in 5-7 years.

Thank you

The emerald ash borer is currently having the same effect on the billions of ash trees in North America.


It's a similar story. The species was accidentally introduced from Asia in the 1990s, and it's spreading dramatically across the continent. No effective strategy has been discovered to stop the destruction as of yet.

These bugs can be defeated by aerial spray of species-specific viral infection. But that weapon has to be designed first. In 70-ies, the USSR by such means successfully combated Lymantria dispar invasion in Siberia, which devastated pine forests on unimaginable scale. Though it took about 7 years and if memory serves, 3 research institutions to make insights into immune system of this species and make effective species-specific virus. The strain is still available.

Do you have any literature on this story?

Since this was long before the Internet, I doubt it is available on www. However quick search gives this, you can feed it to Google Translate. http://www.libussr.ru/doc_ussr/usr_9772.htm. Name of strain is "вирин-ЭНШ" This is final document with instruction of strain usage http://www.libussr.ru/doc_ussr/usr_10557.htm

Almost all of the avenue trees in my neighborhood were Ash, most around 50 years old, and they were all taken down last spring due to the borer. Limbs had been falling for years during storms, we were pretty worried about seeing significant damage due to the trees literally falling apart over our house. When they were taken down, most of the stumps were soft enough to crumble with your fingertips and the sapwood was completely webbed with borer holes.

About a month after they took the trees down, we had the worst thunderstorm in years. Lost power for three days due to dozens of uprooted (non-Ash!) trees. I can't imagine the carnage had those trees still been up.

They have effectively wiped out all Ash trees around central Ohio. Once these beautiful trees were 20 - 25% of our forest, tree lines, and even shade for parking lots. Now they are all gone. You can really notice it in areas where they haven't been removed by tree services. We have an abundance of woodpeckers now because of all of the dead standing trees around us. I wonder what they'll make baseball bats out of when the lumber supply runs out?

Louisville Slugger has started shifting to yellow birch and maple. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/baseball-bats-mad...


At the very center of my acre stands a huge green ash. I've never measured it, but I'd guesstimate 40' tall. Circumference of the trunk is, oh, maybe 15'. One of the reasons I never wanted to sell my property was the fear it would be chopped down.

It died two years ago.

I loathe invasive species.

Same in Switzerland. The local newspaper (Berner Zeitung) has an article today about how the ash trees needed to be felled in a Bernese park and removed by helicopter because of difficult topography.

The Columbian Exchange continues!

One question about the article: why do they say "technically extinct" and not just "extinct"?

I also wonder---if we get chestnuts back up to their 19th-century numbers, what species will suffer as a result? Similarly to how coyotes are suffering from the reintroduction of gray wolves. I'm fine with attempting to restore the previous equilibrium, but it's good to be aware of all the consequences.

Well, American chestnut grew on upland sites with thin soil in oak-hickory forest. Many of the surviving trees are on inaccessible mountain slopes and other places unsuitable for agriculture. After they died, the canopy space was overtaken by oak, hickory, tuliptree, and other native trees. The chestnut was so populous because it simply overwhelmed the other trees with seed production.

In terms of wildlife, there is no downside: the chestnut produces a larger mast than oak/hickory, and it produces every year instead of biennially. Its nut is starchy rather than oily. Chestnuts simply produce more food for humans and wildlife than the forest can otherwise. Its loss was simply a huge loss for the ecosystem.

Beechbark disease is another major one. IIRC about 2-5% of trees can survive it, but it's taking out stands all over the northeast through the midwest.

alas, i have one at my driveway in NJ and cross my fingers everyday.

and pour gallons of pesticide on it...

This article almost criminally understates the amount of success the restoration program has had in the last few years. The American Chestnut Foundation's effort to backcross the American chestnut with blight-resistant Chinese chestnuts has been successfully producing trees for over 10 years. Our local parks department has planted a number of these in our urban forest, including an orchard of a dozen trees or more. http://www.kychestnut.org/louisville-american-chestnuts

From Wikipedia:

"Salvage logging during the early years of the blight may have unwittingly destroyed trees which had high levels of resistance to this disease and thus aggravated the calamity."

One of many good examples of humanities best intentions having adverse effects on an ecosystem or species.


Isn't salvage logging entirely just to make money? Humanity reaps what it sows.

The implication that anything done to make money is automatically bad is completely false.

The economic effects of "the invisible hand", whereby voluntary exchange yields benefits to both parties and provides an economic surplus, is a "win-win" whereby both parties are better off.

This is not without possible negative effects ("negative externalities") but it is the most effective way to improve people's lives we've found so far.

Remember that nature and natural selection works by a more damaging mechanism - "take what you can" - and yet still manages to produce beneficial results - though obviously not better for every individual or species.

Much of the economic history of economic exploitation has been "take what you can" rather than free exchange.

It leads to the liquidation of a valuable long-term resource for a quick short-term gain. A fishery that would be worth many billions over centuries is liquidated for millions in a few years, for example.

This is especially true in the US, where so many plants and animals did not live within a system of property. The American bison was saved only because one or two landowner had a sentimental attachment to a local herd and spared them from the carnage. The passenger pigeon was exterminated for cheap meat with industrial hunting methods. Markets create positive sum games, but this was just destruction.

The opportunity cost of billions of American chestnuts producing valuable nuts and timber over the last century is incalculable.

I made no implication saying it's bad or good (if I unintentionally did, I explicitly state that it was not here).

"You reap what you sow" is an idiom that simply says everything that happens to you is a result of your own actions. [1] It does have a religious context that has a more negative, connotation however.

Also, as I showed in the sibling post, we've known about the negative effects of salvage logging for at least 20 years. We're still doing it, by the way. [2]

Humanity will also "reap what it sows" in regards to our lack of action on regards to climate change. I intend to make no positive or negative claim. Simply stating the facts (I hope).

[1] http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/You+reap+what+you+sow

[2] https://www.google.com/search?q=salvage+logging&oq=salvage+l...

Salvage logging is to cut down trees damaged by something to protect the rest of the tree (fire damage, disease, etc.).

First. As far as the purpose of salvage logging. It is economic. [0]

> "the term 'salvage' is appropriate for operations in which the primary objective of postfire logging is economic..."

From the link the parent posted, it sounds like there's little evidence that it does any of that (the things you mentioned). [1] [2]

The one paper cited on Wikipedia as being pro-logging goes against it in the conclusion:

> "We know enough about both logging activity and structural change to recommend caution. Although ground-based logging activity could mitigate for erosion problems under certain conditions, it is more likely that it will either have no effect or produce more sediment than that is produced by the fire..." [3]

This was published in 2000. I stand by my original comment. Humanity reaps what it sows.

I'd be interested to see contradicting evidence if there is any. My comment came from reading the Wikipedia article.

[0] pg 1. http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/195...

[1] http://science.sciencemag.org/content/311/5759/352

[2] http://www.californiachaparral.com/images/Lindenmayer_et_al_...

[3] pg 21. http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/195...

Though the original statement in the Wiki article is only a Google link to a book from 2015 which I can't seem to read more about?

If 4 billion trees were affected in only a few years, people couldn't have chopped down so many trees, couldn't they? If there were natural resistant chest nuts at least a few should have endured.

Everytime I hike in the region I wonder what it might have looked like 100 years ago with these trees.

I still find myself looking for them sometimes, have spotted a few here and there, many old giants that keep trying to send up shoots only to have them re-infected and die again.

The North American Elm tree is also being wiped out as we speak in a similar very thorough manner: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_elm_disease

There are at least a couple resistant varieties ("Princeton" comes to mind) but none are fully immune. Resistance seems to depend on the type of beetle infesting the tree and other stressors.

Yup. We lost two, massive elms in our yard this past spring to Dutch Elm Disease. By the time you spot it, it's too late.

I hope we've learned from the Chestnut fiasco that the 'solution' to this is probably not to cut down all Elm trees.

Lost biodiversity fills me with a bizarrely deep sense of sadness.

I'm really hoping biotech will advance far enough to A) stop the anthropocene extinction and B) eventually reverse it, if not by reviving species then by creating new and wonderful additions to our ecosystems.

On an odder tangent, this is also part of why I'm really excited about space habitats and eventual Mars habitats. When we start creating massive enclosed spaces where we fully control the conditions, I think we'll start seeing some beautiful engineered ecosystems. Utilitarian stuff at first, like those ugly-yet-functional urban hydroponics setups you see today, but eventually I'm hopeful we'll create some 'natural' beauty.

The short-term focus of humanity sometimes worries me as we keep making mistakes that are likely irreversible and preventable. Passenger pigeons were once estimated to be the most abundant bird in the world. There were so many that no one thought they could ever go extinct, until they did in the early 20th century.

Ignorance befell twice when people failed to realize a bird that would "darken the skies" could go extinct like any creature and that their breeding habits weren't as straight forward as one would assume. Passenger pigeons would only breed in large flocks, so by the time that anyone realized they were doomed and tried to breed them, there weren't enough pigeons left to form a flock of significant size.

Some might argue the pigeons or even the chestnut/elm/ash are not a regrettable loss, but miss the point--that our assumption we can easily undo the damage we cause to the planet is not always possible. The trees might make a comeback from genetic engineering eventually, but bringing animals back from extinction is still more theory than application.

On a different tangent: do you think thus created nature will be beautiful to us? Will it be beautiful to people who are born there?

I wonder why the trees are beautiful to us.. Maybe because we are used to them and connect nice memories to the image of trees?

I don't think we'll create anything radically different enough to not be beautiful.

Modifying what already exists is usually easier than creating something from nothing, and I would expect that to apply for engineering new organisms.

If you mean will the ecosystems be beautiful to us, as in, will a forest in a space station really be a forest, or more of a gaudy tourist attraction and/or a sterile research environment, I'm hopeful that we'll choose to include some allowance for beauty in our planning.

Kim Stanley Robertson's Mars trilogy touches on these themes a lot, and I'm also drawing to some degree from the Culture series' vision of orbitals. We're clearly centuries (at least) from being able to build orbitals, but I think far smaller ring structures - and even more likely mere two-body tether set ups - may be just decades ahead.

I'm old enough to remember large chestnut trees on our old farm in eastern Pennsylvania, but they're all gone now. It's a genuine tragedy, and I hope botanists can produce a blight-resistant tree soon.

This makes me very sad. I love eating roasted chestnuts as a snack. This might be part of the reason why I find chestnuts to be so expensive when compared to back home (spain).

Seriously, try to get some chestnuts and roast them (oven or microwave) with some salt. They are delicious, especially during the cold months.

In the U.S., chestnuts were one of the cheapest foods in the 19th century. They were gathered up in huge amounts and sent into the cities. Like passenger pigeon meat, which was so cheap that it was regarded as a food for the poor.

Coincidentally, both are now extinct.

The American chestnut is not extinct. Every single passenger pigeon is dead. Whereas there are genetically pure, blight-resistant trees still living in the wild, but they are so widely distributed that they couldn't breed naturally—each surviving tree is documented, and researchers are still searching for more, such as on isolated Appalachian mountainslopes. But new American chestnuts are being planted. The American chestnut is more like an animal that was nearly extinct in the wild, but rescued in zoos and captive breeding programs, and is now being reintroduced to the wild.

The American Chestnut Cooperators Foundation breeds genetically pure blight-resistant American chestnuts and plants thousands (4,090 in 2015) of seeds every year in an effort to grow genetically pure blight-resistant saplings. http://accf-online.org/

The American Chestnut Foundation spent decades back-crossing American chestnuts with Chinese chestnuts to develop a variety with the characteristics of the American tree and the blight resistance of the Chinese one. Since getting nuts in 2005, they've planted hundreds of trees in national parks; there's an orchard of a dozen in our city's nature center; there are thousands planted at the Flight 93 memorial alone. https://www.npca.org/articles/939-cracking-the-nut http://www.acf.org/

Chestnuts are similar to American bison: only a few very small bison herds are genetically pure; but there are numerous large herds of American bison with a small amount of domestic cow genes.

They're also delicious steam-cooked in a pressure cooker.

We still have lots of chestnut trees in France, I hope it stays that way.

Here in Sweden, we have plenty of chestnut but they are all poisonous.

In Sweden you have Horse Chestnut[1], whereas in France there’s both that and the Sweet Chestnut[2].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aesculus_hippocastanum

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castanea_sativa

In the UK too; horse chestnuts are particularly prized as you use the fruit to play conkers:


I ate them all the time when I was a kid. I associate the taste with childhood.

Same for me, together with pinhões from Araucaria[1] trees, which are also unfortunately endangered.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Araucaria_angustifolia

I will be very happy to see a blight-resistant chestnut in the US as a result of some genetic engineering. I am even ready to donate for such a good cause if this effort will ever be crowdfunded by known biologists in the field. Heck, I am even ready to get the US visa just to take part in planting them back, once they get saplings. Guys, do it!

And there is this promising news recently. http://scienceline.org/2017/01/american-chestnut-tree-good-s...

Growing up in CA, I had no idea about the former glory or struggle of the chestnut tree, and so found this piece quite interesting.

Didn't realize it was that bad.

I'll continue to keep secret the location of the small grove of ancient mature trees where I gather the nuts each year. If word got out you'd have the crazies showing up wanting to cut them all down.

There are a few still alive near my house. Several professors have come to take the seeds for use in these projects.

Perhaps they were acting on behalf of the American Chestnut Cooperators Foundation, they have been working to cross various American Chestnuts with demonstrated blight resistance to create a fully resistant strain.


I actually had no idea this was the case. There is an old chestnut tree in my parents back yard that has been there for 40+ years at least.

There are a number of hybrid American chestnuts that are blight resistant. I have a Dunstan Chestnut that is doing rather well after a few years. It still gets the blight but heals itself over time.

The real tragedy was that people were implored to chop down blighted trees. A few of those may have had genetic resistance that could have kept the species going.

There is one in Stanley Park in Vancouver. I came across it and didn't know what the nuts were so collected several off the ground to look up. I didn't know anything about the tree before that.

For the curious: http://imgur.com/a/eis4a

I am not a botanist and cannot say from the pictures but that might as well have been a european sweet chestnut, as its outside of the natural range either way and the european is probably more common.


If you want to help the Chestnut tree join The American Chestnut Foundation - http://www.acf.org/. They do research into developing disease resistant varieties of Chestnut.

They have it backwards. They're technically not extinct, just rare. I've seen them in the wild.

My parents have one in their front yard they planted around 30 years ago from a sapling they found while camping. It makes me wonder if it's a resistant strain.

I think the term is "functionally extinct". The blight doesn't affect them until they're 20-30 years old. There's a very good chance they'll die. I don't think they've found a blight-resistant strain yet, just isolated trees, which always eventually get blighted.

It sounds like reproduction has basically stopped in the wild, and extinction is a foregone conclusion without human intervention. It's an interesting grey area.

Butternut is also on its way out too thanks to canker fungus, but some have been identified that are resistant so those are getting bred.

I always wondered if Americans cook chestnut spread ?

Can I buy trees from lowes or homedepot or walmart to plant them? At Texas we do have some chestnut trees, but not too many.

It's always a fungus or a bug imported from Asia. The Emerald Ash Borer, the Asian Longhorned Beetle etc.

Cambridge, MA. Lone chestnut tree Enchanting fruit To a 70s child

Long gone now :\

Hack its genom? Grow kevlar crusted chestnuts! There under the chest-nuttree, i betrayed humanity and it betrayed me.

Curious question- is there a law against CRISPR-terrorism?

The best kind of extinct.

> There used to be 4B American chestnut trees, but they all disappeared

Not long ago this would have been rendered as, "There once were four billion American chestnut trees, all now gone." People are no longer learning how to write, they're learning how to type.

Can you elaborate? The title, as presented here, is nothing spectacular, but it's not necessarily inadequate to the task. Also, the "all now gone" phrase in your alternate strikes me as somewhat awkward.

While reading your version I also wondered why you might go with "There once were" rather than "There were once"?

We all have our own pet peeves, though. I weep at the loss of the subjunctive in English (For most usages it's "I wish I WERE there", not "I wish I WAS there", dammit!!!)

> The title, as presented here, is nothing spectacular, but it's not necessarily inadequate to the task.

I just see too many uses of "There used to be", which to me is a crude way to concatenate two stock phrases without reflection, but in a awkward way that grates on my ear. Also I think Strunk & White's concision emphasis still rings true.

> I also wondered why you might go with "There once were" rather than "There were once"?

Voicing the candidates shows the difference. I imagine speaking anything I write, which reveals phrasings that would be hard to say out loud.

> We all have our own pet peeves, though. I weep at the loss of the subjunctive in English (For most usages it's "I wish I WERE there", not "I wish I WAS there", dammit!!!)

I have a funny story about that. A depressed child enters the kitchen and says, "I wish I was dead!" The child's mother says, "Oh no! Not that! Don't you mean 'I wish I were dead'?" :)

> Also, the "all now gone" phrase in your alternate strikes me as somewhat awkward.

Perhaps, but in my view not compared to "They all disappeared," which suggests proactive agency (did they run away?) rather than passive fate.

'Perhaps, but in my view not compared to "They all disappeared," which suggests proactive agency (did they run away?) rather than passive fate'

Ah, I see your point. Sadly I think a generation or two of teachers maniacally chastising their students for ever using the passive form could have something to do with this.

Even in this forum, you'll find plenty of people saying that all writing need be direct, simple, and brief. There's virtue in that for quick memoranda, but to say that there's no place in the world for complex, abstract writing or the expression of nuance in careful word choice (as you describe) is a real shame. Too often I've been corrected by people who say "you mean 'I wish I _was_' because the subject is singular".

There's some evidence that language is what makes abstract thought even possible. Perhaps we're leaving our minds unable to comprehend abstractions when we reduce that available in our language. More discussion is at https://neuroanthropology.net/2010/07/21/life-without-langua....

Or maybe I just need to get over it. I overcame my violent aversion to starting sentences with "or" and "and", after all.

Just want to say that what I feared was going to be an angry grammar-nazi-stand-off was actually a pleasant, friendly, and informative discussion of the possibilities of language usage in different contexts. Cheers for keeping your heads, all.

I was thinking pretty much exactly the same thing, more "grammar gentlepeople" please!

> There's virtue in that for quick memoranda, but to say that there's no place in the world for complex, abstract writing or the expression of nuance in careful word choice (as you describe) is a real shame.

Yes, I agree. Einstein was supposed to have said something to the effect that if we can't explain something in a few words, then we don't really understand it. I think he said that before creating general relativity, which can't be explained in a few words. :)

> There's some evidence that language is what makes abstract thought even possible.

Yes, or in any case some abstract notation scheme, some organizing/categorizing symbol set. Like mathematics, which is more than its notation but that (for most people) can't be sustained without the notation.

Apropos, did you know pure math notation can support jokes? Here's my favorite:

8i = ∞

> I overcame my violent aversion to starting sentences with "or" and "and", after all.

In the 1970s I noticed Texas Instruments beginning certain advertising promotional sentences with "And." I saw it as a way to add emphasis to what might otherwise have been a series of short sentences; phrases partitioned with semicolons and other similar devices. So I started using it. And never gave it up. :)

By the way, I stole the earlier "writing/typing" meme from Truman Capote, who supposedly said it about some of his contemporaries whom he regarded as hacks.

> 8i = ∞

I'd say that's more a pun than a joke.

>I overcame my violent aversion to starting sentences with "or" and "and", after all. This alone interested me in advanced English. Learning via reading all these comments and blog posts, I rarely realize that I'm learning from non-native speakers.

Interestingly non-native speakers will sometimes have a better handle on usages which are declining in English-speaking countries. I understood when to use "whom" much better after studying Wer, Wen, and Wem in German.

Styles change with technology. The headline may be rendered to maximize SEO value, but the body leaves room for flavor. Most writers don't take advantage, but that's on the writers, not technology. Already, we see headlines returning to a more creative state as people learn to bridge machine bait with human interest.

They were all turned into peanut butter. True facts!

Eh, alternative facts.

The American chestnut has become some sort of poster child for GMO advocates, but there is no need to resort to genetic modification to bring it back.

There have been and are blight resistant trees developed through conventional breeding programs.

I have hybrids on my own property that are blight resistant. There are some that are 95%+ American chestnut genetics and are not blight susceptible. There are programmes in both Canada and the U.S. breeding these trees.

Marker assisted selection might be used which I suppose is a kind of GM technology, but there is no need to resort to gene _editing_ or _splicing_. That is a far more expensive and has the disadvantage of having extremely bad PR.

Same thing for the non-browning apple, BTW. There was no _need_ beyond availability of funding and various ag department/company politics to resort to GM for that. There have been non-browning apple strains around since the 19th century.

I should also point out that there are rare instances of what appear to be naturally blight resistant mature trees in the wild found here or there. Maybe they're natural hybrids, or just lucky to avoid the blight, but if you find one, various breeding groups would love to know.

This is the kind of anti science drivel I never expect to see on HN, but here goes.

You paint this as being a 'gmo posterchild' when clearly, it is humans, scrambling with Every technology at our disposal, to save a species. Your whole rambling post harbors the implicit notion that 'GMO BAD, "Natural" GOOD' with no statement to support that backward notion.

The GM strains are superior in apples for a plethora of reasons, or they would use your obscure, bitter, non-browning, and less disease resistant apples requiring even more pesticides. But they do not.

I concede that quite likely we can use thousand year old tech to accomplish these goals. However the timeframe may be much longer (omitting red tape) for a result, and time is of the essence.

If you can substantiate the unsaid evils of GM vs breeding by selected random mutations, please, be my guest.

You could do without the tone in this comment, and could stick to the facts instead of trying to smear me.

I am not even anti-GM. Nowhere in my comment did I say GM was evil. Go back and actually read. I'm trying to point out a fact: mass selection has advantages, GMO in the "gene splicing" way is here is not necessary, and is a _political_ liability. You want to reforest the wild with GMO organisms? It won't be me trying to stop you, but others definitely will. So it's a dumb way to do it.

BTW, what I am talking about is not "thousand year old tech" -- mass selection breeding is under a century old. Luther Burbank died in 1926. And mass selection is now done with marker assistance, a very modern "GM" technology.

_Would_ that medieval monks knew anything about breeding and mass selection. They did not.

Also you might want to do some research before making claims about non-browning apples that you can't back up with facts.

It is you who are violating the community standards of HN with your personal attacks. Do not call someone's comments drivel -- especially if you can't even be bothered to read them.

Tree genes work way differently than plant (like corn) genes. Trees evolve very rapidly. Genes vary wildly between generations.

Planting a ton of Chestnut trees, maybe mixing in come Chinese genes, and re-breeding the ones that seem immune is probably the fastest, cheapest way to get immune trees again.


Side thought, is the company making GMO Chestnuts going to have IP on the seeds? That seems like it would create some bad incentives recreate this whole scenario with other tree species -Kill all the 'native', free trees of some species, reintroduce your expensive super-tree.

> is the company making GMO Chestnuts going to have IP on the seeds?

No. The ACF's only problem is insufficient funding -> insufficient production.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact