OakSTeP Project

What is OakSTeP? Oak SOD Testing Program is a new program aimed at making a step in the right direction towards the detection and control of Sudden Oak Death (SOD). The other major program aimed at empowering communities in the fight against SOD is called “SOD Blitzes” and allows lay people to identify and confirm the presence of SOD on California Bay Laurel and Tanoak leaves, the two major vectors for the disease in California forests. OakSTeP is a new program launched by the U.C. Berkeley Forest Pathology Laboratory aimed at filling the gap of knowledge on SOD in oaks. Currently, oak testing for SOD is prohibitively expensive and too complex to perform, even for tree care specialists. OakSTeP facilitates the cooperation between professional tree care specialists, oak owners who are their clients, and U.C. scientists to provide a rapid and inexpensive diagnostic service on SOD infection on oaks. Although “SOD blitzes” remain key in protecting oaks from SOD, by identifying the disease in its major vectors (Bay Laurels and Tanoaks) before oaks are infected, early detection of SOD on an oak in any given property, may allow a tree care specialist to save that oak, or more realistically, it may allow her or him to save uninfected oaks that grow nearby.

How Does OakSTeP Work?

OakSTeP stands for “Oak SOD Testing Program”. It is a program directed at licensed tree care workers to provide them with all that is needed to sample symptomatic oaks at a fraction of the cost.  By enrolling in the program, a licensed tree care worker will have access to the following:

  1. Sets of Petri dishes and associated data forms directly delivered to them and to be used when sampling oaks
  2. Instructional Video and written instructions describing step by step all tools needed to sample oaks: when, where and how to sample oaks; where and how to send samples.
  3. Analysis by the U.C. Berkeley state-of-the-art Diagnostic Lab.
  4. Easy to read diagnostic reports that may be shared with clients.

Matteo’s Instructional Video

How to get Started

1- Download the OakSTeP Registration and Enrollment form.  Enter your full name, physical address where shipments will be received, phone number, license number, and email. By sending this form in, you consent to the publishing of results by UC. All data are published anonymously (i.e. without the names of owners or of tree care specialist). There is a one time registration fee of $200 to enroll in the program.  Donation to the program is fully tax deductible, and has to be done through the website below.  In the “Special Instruction” Box at the bottom of the donation page, write: “OakSTeP Registration for Name and Last Name”. You will receive an email and a receipt in PDF format: transcribe the Confirmation Number in the box at the bottom of the registration number.

Enrollment is FREE to active participants of any SOD Blitz. Just ask for the form and return it on site.


2- Once your OakSTeP ID number has been emailed to you, you can order 1 to 4 oak testing kits per time by going to the Testing Kit Request Form. Each kit contains:

a)10 Petri dishes, sufficient to sample 10 trees (although more than one kit can be used on particularly large or multi-stem trees);

b) A data form with codes pre-assigned to each Petri dish, and with required pertinent information that needs to be filled in by the tree care specialist during sampling (samples returned without all complete information will not be processed).  Petri dishes have to be kept in the fridge and have to be used within 4 weeks from the date they are received. Each kit costs $150. ($150 for one kit, $300 for two kits, $450 for three kits, and $600 for four kits) has to be done by going to the donation page.

A receipt will be emailed to you upon competing the online donation. Both on the “Thank you” screen and in the PDF receipt, a confirmation number will be provided. Include that confirmation number in the appropriate box at the bottom of the Request Form.

Save the receipt in PDF form your own record and as proof of Donation.

3- Sample trees as instructed in the video or in the written instructions below.  Within 48 hours from sampling, ship Petri dishes containing the samples at the address indicated at the bottom of the data form using next day service. Remember to include the completely filled-in data form, and a hard copy proof of diagnostic gift. Diagnostic charge is $50 per each Petri dish that is returned to the U.C. Berkeley Laboratory.  Donation for diagnostic services has to be done at the same donation page, and it should be in multiples of $50. For instance if returning all ten plates, the charge is $500.

Again, save the receipt in PDF format and include a hard copy with shipment.  Shipments must include data forms completely filled in and a hard copy of proof of donation in order to be processed. Immediately email your name, size of shipment (e.g. number of plates), courier name, and shipment number to oakstep@matteolab.org . Plates unused after a month need to be discarded.  Results of the test will be emailed to you within 6 weeks.

Useful Links

Online Registration and Enrollment Form

OakSTeP Oak Sampling Instructions

Online Testing Kit Request Form

Gift Donation Link