Plant & Soil Testing

Extensive Expertise

We have experience with major plant and crop groups.

What testing service is offered?

Identifying the exact cause of a plant disease is rarely achieved by only viewing the disease symptoms. Disease diagnosis is most accurate when clinical tests are completed on the specimen. Our diagnostic team has extensive experience with diseases caused by pathogenic fungi, bacteria, viruses, and nematodes. We therefore are equipped to test for and identify problems caused by these, as well as abiotic (non-pathogenic) factors.

Which tests are used?

A combination of tests is used, depending on the case and the situation.

  1. Culture tests involve removing pieces of diseased tissue, using sterile technique, and placing these pieces in different nutrient agars or solutions so that the pathogen could be isolated. Once a suspect organism is recovered, we use microscopes, biochemical tests, and other means to identify the pathogen and therefore diagnose the problem.
  2. Molecular tests target the DNA of suspect pathogens. These DNA-based tests (RPA, PCR) are designed to specifically search for and find the pathogen’s DNA, thereby confirming the presence of that organism.
  3. Serological tests target certain molecules (antigens) that are present on the suspect pathogens. Tests such as ELISA specifically search for and find the pathogen’s antigens, thereby confirming the presence of that organism.
  4. Other techniques such as plant incubation, grow out tests, and other methods contribute to the diagnostic process.

What materials are tested?

  1. We have experience with major plant and crop groups (fruit and nut, ornamental and horticultural, vegetable, forest and landscape) and accept plant samples of any type, including new and alternative crops.
  2. We have extensive expertise in testing soil for two soilborne pathogens: Verticillium and Macrophomina. We currently use the culture/semi-selective medium method to enumerate pathogen levels in soil prior to the planting of the crop, thereby giving growers an idea of the pathogen pressure they might face. We will also be adding DNA-based methods for testing soil.