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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Hilo, Hawaii » Daniel K. Inouye U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center » Tropical Plant Genetic Resources and Disease Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #318144

Research Project: Molecular Resources for the Improvement of Tropical Ornamental and Fruit Crops

Location: Tropical Plant Genetic Resources and Disease Research

Title: Ceratocystis Wilt of ‘Ohi‘a

Author
item FRIDAY, JB - University Of Hawaii
item Keith, Lisa
item HUGHES, FLINT - Forest Service (FS)

Submitted to: Extension Publications
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/25/2015
Publication Date: 6/30/2015
Citation: Friday, J., Keith, L.M., Hughes, F. 2015. Ceratocystis Wilt of ‘Ohi‘a. Extension Publications. PD-107.

Interpretive Summary: A newly identified disease has killed large numbers of mature ‘ohi‘a trees (Metrosideros poly¬morpha) in forests and residential areas of the Puna and Hilo Dis¬tricts of Hawai‘i Island. Land¬owners have observed that when previously healthy-looking trees begin to exhibit symptoms they typically die within a matter of weeks. Pathogenicity tests conducted by the USDA Agriculture Research Service have determined that the causal agent of the disease is the vascular wilt fungus Ceratocystis fimbriata (Keith et al. 2015). Although Ceratocystis fimbriata has been present in Hawai‘i as a pathogen of sweet potato for decades (Brown and Matsuura 1941), this is the first record of any Ceratocys¬tis species affecting ‘ohi‘a. It is not yet known whether this widespread occurrence of ‘ohi‘a mortality results from an introduction of an exotic strain of the fungus or whether this constitutes a new host of an existing strain. This disease has the potential to kill ‘ohi‘a trees statewide.

Technical Abstract: A newly identified disease has killed large numbers of mature ‘ohi‘a trees (Metrosideros poly¬morpha) in forests and residential areas of the Puna and Hilo Districts of Hawai‘i Island. Land¬owners have observed that when previously healthy-looking trees begin to exhibit symptoms they typically die within a matter of weeks. Pathogenicity tests conducted by the USDA Agriculture Research Service have determined that the causal agent of the disease is the vascular wilt fungus Ceratocystis fimbriata (Keith et al. 2015). Although Ceratocystis fimbriata has been present in Hawai‘i as a pathogen of sweet potato for decades (Brown and Matsuura 1941), this is the first record of any Ceratocys¬tis species affecting ‘ohi‘a. It is not yet known whether this widespread occurrence of ‘ohi‘a mortality results from an introduction of an exotic strain of the fungus or whether this constitutes a new host of an existing strain. This disease has the potential to kill ‘ohi‘a trees statewide.