Developing new & improved tools for early detection of the fungi Ceratocystis lukuohia & Ceratocystis huliohia in the ʻŌhiʻa & the environment

The ‘Ōhi’a Challenge is presented here as an open challenge to solicit ideas as potential solutions và encourage collaboration.Digital Makerspace members can nội dung their ideas lớn get feedback and tư vấn from the crowd khổng lồ advance them. Think of it as a testing ground for your idea và a place your project can live as it advances and evolves. The competitive challenge run by the Department of Interior và U.S. National Park Service is now closed.Winners are announced at:

The Problem

Two newly discovered invasive fungal pathogens are killing hundreds of thousands of ʻŌhiʻa trees (Metrosideros polymorpha) on Hawaii island. This mortality is known as Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death (ROD) và strikes at the heart of not only the Native Hawaiian people who revere the tree as part of their family, but khổng lồ everyone who has ever been touched by wondrous beauty of the Hawaiian islands. The importance of ʻŌhiʻa cannot be overstated, it is the keystone native tree species, và provides food and habitat for a myriad of species found nowhere else on Earth. Initially thought lớn be Ceratocystis fimbriata, researchers have confirmed that these two new pathogens are not just new to Hawaii, but also new khổng lồ science, and are now called Ceratocystis lukuohia & Ceratosistis huliohia.

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Currently, the only known visual cue of infection is when a tree’s leaves suddenly turn brown, và the tree begins to die. Current detection methods are labor intensive, frequently requiring sample collection over challenging & rugged terrain, as well as lab analysis, either on or off-site. Field sampling has been limited to lớn trees exhibiting symptoms of infection và mortality, & there is no clear methodology lớn identify asymptomatic trees (i.e. Trees without signs of infection). Once the trees leaves begin lớn turn brown, it’s already too late in the infection process to save the tree or prevent spread of the infection.

This fungal pathogen can affect individual trees as well as entire forests. There is a tremendous urgency among land managers, cultural practitioners, và private citizens lớn halt the spread of the disease. Loss of ʻŌhiʻa would have irreparable effects on the biological diversity, hydrology, cultural traditions, and unique of life in Hawaiʻi. Monetary losses would be in the billions of dollars; cultural losses would be priceless.

The Challenge

The Saving the ‘Ōhi’a challenge is presented here as an xuất hiện challenge to solicit ideas & projects as potential solutions và encourage collaboration. Digital Makerspace members can mô tả their ideas và projects & get feedback and support from the crowd to advance them. This challenge will be launched as a competition in Fall 2018 with a $70K+ prize purse. At that time, Digital Makerspace members can choose to submit their projects separately to the competition.

The first step to lớn containment và eventual eradication of the disease is to be able lớn detect to it – before it kills và before it spreads. This challenge seeks innovative tools and creative solutions to lớn rapidly và cheaply detect the fungal species Ceratocystis lukuohia & Ceratocystis huliohia (formerly Ceratocystis fimbriata) in asymptomatic trees (i.e. Trees that vị not show signs of infection) as well as at the landscape scale in larger stands. We also seek tools that can detect the potential invasion transmission pathways (e.g., wind, streams, transported soil, forest products, tools, equipment, etc.) and potential reservoirs of the fungus that lead to its spread.

Most scientists who study fungal pathogens recognize that curing infected trees is difficult or near impossible, especially if the pathogen has spread across vast areas. Early detection is a critical component of all invasive species management programs, và improvements in our capacity khổng lồ detect the fungus will help us contain it, và likely offer the best chance to lớn eventually eliminate this disease.

This challenge seeks tools and solutions khổng lồ address the following constraints:


The ROD fungus is an invisible killer. Its spores are microscopic, và without boring into the tree, it is currently impossible to detect the presence of the fungus. The fungus infects the tree’s interior sapwood và chokes the tree’s water transport system. Trees may be infectious but asymptomatic for over a year, yet the only visual cue of infection occurs when a tree’s canopy suddenly turns brown, & the tree begins to die. At this stage, teams are deployed to collect wood samples from the tree và submitted khổng lồ a laboratory for analysis. When the leaves turn brown, it’s too late in the infection process to save the tree and/or prevent spread of the infection.


Many ʻŌhiʻa trees are found in remote sites or challenging terrain (hilly and mountainous, with steep slopes, and/or thick foilage, etc.). Being able khổng lồ reach such sites is difficult, and there is a need to lớn understand the spread of the pathogen at the landscape level to allow us to focus our efforts around control and eradication. We invite low-cost solutions for rapid field-based detection of the infection in trees across challenging terrain và in stands of trees of more than five acres, and preferably up khổng lồ 100 acres.

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We vị not fully understand how trees become infected, what are potential reservoirs for the pathogen, và how the disease spreads through the environment. Understanding the spread of the fungus is critical, yet because the fungus is not visible to the naked eye, it is impossible lớn visually track it along suspected invasion pathways, including wind currents, soil samples, và possibly rain.

We invite low-cost solutions lớn detect (and predict) the invasion pathways and the spread of the fungus in the environment, as well as solutions that would help contain or reduce the spread without harming other beneficial species.


This challenge seeks tools that can detect and predict the environmental pathways of the fungi, and detect the presence of the fungi in individual asymptomatic trees and/or in larger stands -- sampling upwards of 100 acres. The highest performing tools for detecting the fungi would work for small và large-scale analysis. The tools should be designed for easy adoption by the intended users, including ease of use và cost, with a clear plan for creating a sản phẩm that will have a measurable impact.COST-EFFICACY:New or adapted technologies must improve the cost-efficacy of detection compared lớn currently available options for individual trees and entire forests.Current costs:Average lab cost per tree tested - $21.00Average field costs per tree (includes instances when staff must drive & hike to remote areas to lớn obtain tree samples) - $36.00Total average cost per tree - $57.00IMPACT:The proposed idea will make a significant contribution in advancing the detection of the ROD fungi và their pathways of spread through dramatic improvements in efficacy, speed, efficiency, or cost.FEASIBILITY:Demonstrate or persuade that the proposed solution will actually work as described. The proposed solution is tangible and realistic and, noting where it sits on the technological development spectrum (from idea khổng lồ deployment), the expected amount of time before the solution/tool can be used in the field. Due lớn the urgency of the problem,Challenge submissions that include or are closer to lớn an existing prototype detection tool may get higher scores than submissions that are purely ideas.Cut-off criteria:These secondary criteria will be considered as minimum cut-off:CULTURAL ACCEPTABILITY:ʻŌhiʻa trees are culturally significant trees and solutions should not harm healthy trees or otherwise harm native natural or cultural resources.SUSTAINABILITY:The proposed idea is environmentally, financially, và socially sustainable in both its design & tenure.

Problem Background

Two newly discovered invasive fungal pathogens Ceratocystis lukuohia and Ceratocystis huliohia (formerly Ceratocystis fimbriata), are killing hundreds of thousands of ʻŌhiʻa (Metrosideros polymorpha) on Hawaiʻi Island. First observed in 2010, these fungi are responsible for Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death (ROD). ROD can affect individual trees and entire forests, but is only known on Hawaiʻi Island, where currently, over 100,000 acres of forests are affected. While there is widespread tư vấn for research và management lớn halt the spread of ROD, many unanswered questions remain. For example, we vày not fully understand how trees become infected, or how the disease spreads through forests. Understanding the spread of ROD is critical, yet the difficulty of detecting the fungus presents a significant barrier.