Committee Chair

Craddock, J. Hill

Committee Member

Boyd, Jennifer; Barbosa, Jose


Dept. of Biological and Environmental Sciences


College of Arts and Sciences


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


Asexual propagation through grafting is a low-tech, noninvasive method for conservation of rare American chestnut germplasm. Particularly when in situ conditions prevent trees from reaching sexual maturity, graft-propagation allows release from shade conditions and disease pressure to promote flowering. Collection of pollen from containerized grafted trees allows conservation of genetic resources that were previously unavailable to breeders or difficult to access. Additionally, the use of high light environments may be able to reduce the generation time needed to develop a population of disease-resistant trees for restoration. As many new American chestnut individuals are required to advance both the current American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) backcross breeding program and the potential transgenic outcross program, the use of these methods provides an important proof of concept: accelerated conservation of novel genotypes from under-sampled southern populations is possible though graft propagation and the use of high light conditions.


This project would not have been possible if not for the unwavering support from my mentor and friend, Dr. J. Hill Craddock. His dedication to student-led research and infectious personality is what drew me to research in American chestnut restoration. I credit his mentorship with my continued pursuit of education and successful transition from a military career to scientific research of natural systems. Additionally, I am grateful for the institutional support from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Department of Biology, Geology, and Environmental Science, and the Office of Research as this project was funded in part by a UTC SEARCH grant. Also, for the support of The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) both for professional support in the form of resource sharing and expertise, and two external grant awards which provided funding for field work, supplies, and time. I am thankful for the support of my thesis committee, Drs. Jennifer Boyd and Jose Barbosa for your expert advice and contributions to this project. Without equipment supplied by Dr. Boyd, and training by Jared Odell, this project would be significantly limited in data collection of light and temperature data. This project was also supported by Sara Fitzsimmons (TACF) and James McKenna (USFS), who each supplied hundreds of rootstocks for grafting. Throughout this project I have received crucial support from dedicated volunteers in the American chestnut community. A special thanks to David Morris who supplied endless generosity, time, and resources to guide multiple field collecting trips across the state of Alabama. I am also thankful for field support from Jamie Nobles (Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve), Jeremy Gouch (Natchez Trace State Park and Forest), Mark Vance (Game Warden Cannon County, TN), Rogers Starr, and Bruce and Francine Hutchinson. I received many scionwood submissions from numerous dedicated volunteers across Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. I’m especially grateful to Dr. Marty Cipollini (Berry College) for championing this research in the TACF Georgia Chapter, as members from the GA chapter contributed significantly to this project. Finally, I’m thankful for my wife, Leslie, who has been at my side throughout all the demands and stresses of this project with love, kindness, and support.


M. S.; A thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Science.




American chestnut; American chestnut -- germplasm resources; Grafting; Plants -- Effect of light on


chestnut breeding; conservation; germplasm; grafting; photoperiod

Document Type

Masters theses




xiii, 85 leaves.





Date Available