New PIDC Service-Insect Molecular Identifications

The Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic (PIDC) now runs two insect identification services, the regular microscope insect identification ($10.00) and a new molecular insect identification ($35.00).

PIDC personnel running a molecular insect ID

Most insect identifications can be completed using the basic microscope identification service. However, molecular identifications are helpful for tricky or problematic samples. Broken samples, immature insects, and specimens for which diagnostic keys using physical features have not been developed or cannot be accessed/used with available equipment can now be more easily identified.  

During the molecular identification process, we will extract the insect’s DNA, replicate a target strand that is used in identification, get the sequence of DNA from this target region, and then compare this sequence to sequences of other organisms housed in a large database.

There are a few caveats to molecular identification services. An ID to the species level requires a reference sample of that species to be uploaded to the database previously. The process can also be problematic for some samples, seemingly at random. However, most of the time we can confirm samples to at least the genus level using this process.

The $35.00 cost for the molecular identification service includes a $10.00 basic identification. To request a molecular identification, request the $10.00 basic insect ID service on our sample submission form, and check the additional box to perform molecular insect ID if available. We will run the basic ID service, and only continue with the molecular identification if it is required to better inform on the insect’s biology, to assist with a client’s specific situation, or if attempts to identify the insect using microscopes are unsuccessful.

Check boxes on sample submission form required for selecting a molecular insect ID

Molecular diagnostics includes several steps, and the process can fail at any of them. We will repeat each step up to two (2) times without additional charges. The included $10.00 basic service will be charged for all samples, regardless of if the molecular identification process fails. We will waive the remaining $25.00 fee if the molecular identification process fails. For the most up to date information on PIDC services, terms, and policies, see our website.

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