Students work to save chestnut trees

Students in the Olympic High School B-3 Summer Program worked to prevent the extinction of the American chestnut tree. The American Chestnut Foundation says the chestnut blight, an Asian fungus that has killed billions of trees, was the biggest ecological disaster of the 20th century.

The program focuses on biotechnology, biodiversity and bioinformatics in the School of Biotechnology, Health & Public Administration at Olympic. Working with UNC Charlotte bioinformatics professor Dr. Jennifer Weller, students were provided the skills and equipment to help establish a genetic marker and develop a disease-resistant tree.

The class traveled to different N.C. forests one day each week. The rest of the week, they extracted DNA, produced copies and separated fragments in the school lab.