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Open Access New Ceratocystis species associated with rapid death of Metrosideros polymorpha in Hawai`i

The native `ōhi`a lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha) has cultural, biological and ecological significance to Hawai`i, but it is seriously threatened by a disease commonly referred to as rapid `ōhi`a death (ROD). Preliminary investigations showed that a Ceratocystis species similar to C. fimbriata was the cause of the disease. In this study, we used a combination of the phylogenetic, morphological and biological species concepts, as well as pathogenicity tests and microsatellite analyses, to characterise isolates collected from diseased `ōhi`a trees across Hawai`i Island. Two distinct lineages, representing new species of Ceratocystis, were evident based on multigene phylogenetic analyses. These are described here as C. lukuohia and C. huliohia. Ceratocystis lukuohia forms part of the Latin American clade (LAC) and was most closely associated with isolates from Syngonium and Xanthosoma from the Caribbean and elsewhere, including Hawai`i, and C. platani, which is native to eastern USA. Ceratocystis huliohia resides in the Asian-Australian clade (AAC) and is most closely related to C. uchidae, C. changhui and C. cercfabiensis, which are thought to be native to Asia. Morphology and interfertility tests support the delineation of these two new species and pathogenicity tests show that both species are aggressive pathogens on seedlings of M. polymorpha. Characterisation of isolates using microsatellite markers suggest that both species are clonal and likely represent recently-introduced strains. Intensive research is underway to develop rapid screening protocols for early detection of the pathogens and management strategies in an attempt to prevent the spread of the pathogens to the other islands of Hawai`i, which are currently disease free.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 30, 2018

This article was made available online on March 27, 2018 as a Fast Track article with title: "New Ceratocystis species associated with rapid death of Metrosideros polymorpha in Hawai`i".

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  • Persoonia aims to publish papers dealing with molecular phylogeny and evolution of fungi. A further aim is to promote fungal taxonomy by employing a polythetic approach to clarify the true phylogeny and relationships within the kingdom Fungi. The journal publishes high-quality papers elucidating known and novel fungal taxa at the DNA level, and also strives to present novel insights into evolutionary processes and relationships. Papers to be considered include research articles and reviews.

    Papers are published using a Fast Track system. This implies that the papers are immediately published online and freely available through the internet via this website. Volumes appear twice a year (June and December). From Volume 36 onwards (2016) hard copy volumes will only be made available through printing-on-demand. The issues can be ordered separately through the Publication Division of Naturalis Biodiversity Center; e-mail: [email protected].

    Persoonia is a journal published jointly by the Naturalis Biodiversity Center and the Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute.
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