Scientists look at fungus as cause of Rapid Ohia Death - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Scientists look at fungus as cause of Rapid Ohia Death

HILO, Hawaii (AP) - Hawaii scientists say a fungal pathogen may be responsible for recent die-offs of ohia (oh-HEE'-ah) trees.

The Hawaii Tribune Herald reports scientists are taking a close look at a fungal pathogen called Ceratocystis (sehr-ra-toh-SIS'-tis), which has previously been found in Hawaii on taro and Okinawan sweet potato, as the cause of Rapid Ohia Death over the last five years.

University of Hawaii extension forester J.B. Friday says a tree with the disease can go from green to yellow to dead in two weeks.

Research plant pathologist Lisa Keith of the Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center performed experiments with the fungus, including inoculating ohia seedlings with the pathogen.

She says much remains to be discovered, such as how it spreads and why it kills some trees and not others.

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