Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic: What We Were Up To in 2017

2017 sample type distribution
2017 sample type distribution

Sample Summary

The PIDC staff processed a total of 2581 samples in 2017. The bulk of our samples originate in the state of Iowa (2556), while 29 samples (~1%) originated from other states in the US, mainly from the Midwest.

The majority of our samples were nematode counts (64%).  Horticultural plants and field crops accounted for 36% of our samples. Our most common sample types were broadleaf trees problem diagnosis (257) and insect identification (167). In 2017 we diagnosed the following problems: pathogens (49%), insect damage (29%) and environmental (13%) and plant/weed or mushroom identification (9%). On plant samples we often diagnose more than one problem.  

Diagnostics Highlights

2017 host type distribution
2017 host type distribution horticultural and ornamental samples

We continue to offer DNA-based diagnostic techniques for plant pathogens.  We now offer PCR tests for the pathogens that cause hops downy mildew (Pseudoperonospora humuli), apple and pear fireblight (Erwinia amylovora), and introduced a new service to identify bacterial pathogens based on DNA sequences. We continued offering the DNA test for oak wilt (Ceratocystis fagacearum).

Extension and Outreach Highlights

PIDC staff members are vital members of many Extension and Outreach programs.   One of the most important ways that we support programs is through presentations (21 presentation with a total of 2096 participants) and hands-on workshops (5 workshops with a total of 374 participants). For example, in 2017 we provided training to 341 new Master Gardeners. We were part of the Turfgrass Field Day (100 participants), and presented at the High Tunnel Short Course (90 participants).

We give tours of our facility where we show how we diagnose plant problems and explain to attendees about the importance of submitting samples for diagnosis.  This past year we enjoyed a visit by the 100 attendees of the Association of Education and Research Greenhouse Curators.

The Clinic staff responded to 482 phone calls and a total of 1111 email from costumers. The PIDC staff also engaged with stakeholders via social media. Our Facebook page has 872 likes, 144 more than in 2016. The pages average yearly total reach was 135. 

Diagnosticians engaged with clients and the general public using Twitter (@LauraJesseISU, @Linaplantdoc and @EdZaworski). We have 285 new followers on our diagnostician's twitter accounts, with a total of 947 followers. Our diagnosticians were mentioned in twitter 128 times, and our tweets were liked 379 times.

2017 PIDC staff interacion with Iowans
2017 PIDC staff interaction with Iowans

We always encourage our clients to give us feedback on our services. If you received a diagnosis from us this year be sure to follow the link to our survey in the email.  We value your feedback greatly! 

Our videos had new views in 2017:    


During 2017 we contributed to Horticulture & Home Pest News with 13 diagnostic updates, three plant disease articles, three mushroom articles and one general service article. We were part of the following publications:

See our article "What’s to come to PIDC in spring 2018" in this issue of the HHPN for exciting updates including that we are moving!! We look forward to helping Iowa's with plant problem diagnosis and identification and extension outreach. Happy New Year and healthy plants in 2018! 

Links to this article are strongly encouraged, and this article may be republished without further permission if published as written and if credit is given to the author, Yard and Garden, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. If this article is to be used in any other manner, permission from the author is required. This article was originally published on January 12, 2018. The information contained within may not be the most current and accurate depending on when it is accessed.