University's plant clinic accepting samples

University's plant clinic accepting samples

By University of Illinois Extension

Another diagnostics season is underway at the University of Illinois Plant Clinic.

Suzanne Bissonnette, director of the clinic, said samples have already been arriving at the facility, now in its 39th year in operation.

Plant clinic services include diagnosis of disease; plant and insect identification; insect, weed and chemical injury observation (chemical injury on field crops only); nematode assays; and help with nutrient-related problems, as well as management recommendations involving these diagnoses.

"On the field front, there have been concerns with virus disease diagnosis in wheat," Bissonnette said. "On the home landscape front, there is a mountain of winter kill and windburn injury from the harsh winter just past."

Many samples can be diagnosed within a day or two. Should culturing be necessary, isolates may not be ready to make a final reading for as much as two weeks, Bissonnette said. Nematode processing also requires about one to two weeks, depending on the procedure. The final diagnoses and invoices are sent back through both U.S. mail and email.

Specialists at the clinic use techniques such as microscopic examinations, laboratory culturing, virus assays and nematode assays to diagnose problem plants.

Each sample for diagnosis should include a sample form, symptomatic plant, protected root ball and payment. Refer to the plant clinic website ( for additional details on sampling, sample forms, fees and services offered.

Whenever submitting a sample, provide as much information as possible on the pattern of injury in the planting, the pattern on individual affected plants and details describing how symptoms causing concern have changed over time.

Samples can be sent to the UI Plant Clinic, S-417 Turner Hall, 1102 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana IL 61801. Samples also can be dropped off at that location. If no workers are in the office, samples can be placed in the green drop box just outside of S-417. The clinic is open from 8 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Bissonnette explained that fees vary depending on the procedure necessary. General diagnosis, including culturing, is $15; ELISA and immunostrip testing is $25; nematode analysis for SCN or PWN is $20; and specialty nematode testing, such as corn, is $40.

Payment should be included with the sample for diagnosis to be initiated. Checks should be made payable to the UI or to the clinic.

For more information on what, where or how to sample, call 333-0519.

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