Data_Sheet_1_Transgenic American Chestnuts Do Not Inhibit Germination of Native Seeds or Colonization of Mycorrhizal Fungi.XLSX
The American chestnut (Castanea dentata) was once an integral part of eastern United States deciduous forests, with many environmental, economic, and social values. This ended with the introduction of an invasive fungal pathogen that wiped out over three billion trees. Transgenic American chestnuts expressing a gene for oxalate oxidase successfully tolerate infections by this blight fungus, but potential non-target environmental effects should be evaluated before new restoration material is released. Two greenhouse bioassays evaluated belowground interactions between transgenic American chestnuts and neighboring organisms found in their native ecosystems. Potential allelopathy was tested by germinating several types of seeds, all native to American chestnut habitats, in the presence of chestnut leaf litter. Germination was not significantly different in terms of number of seeds germinated or total biomass of germinated seedlings in transgenic and non-transgenic leaf litter. Separately, ectomycorrhizal associations were observed on transgenic and non-transgenic American chestnut roots using field soil inoculum. Root tip colonization was consistently high (>90% colonization) on all plants and not significantly different between any tree types. These observations on mycorrhizal fungi complement previous studies performed on older transgenic lines which expressed oxalate oxidase at lower levels. Along with other environmental impact comparisons, these conclusions provide further evidence that transgenic American chestnuts are not functionally different with regard to ecosystem interactions than non-transgenic American chestnuts.