Plant Problem Sample Submission

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The Plant and Insect Diagnostic staff can investigate plant problems, including diseases caused by pathogens, noninfectious disorders and insect damage in plants. Remember we do NOT test for herbicide residue in plants. We do NOT test for nutrients in soil samples.

Proper samples and as much information as possible in the submission form is very important to reach an accurate diagnosis of the problem. Please print and complete a submission form to include it with your sample. 

Submission form and fee

Plant problem samples ($20 fee*) – disease, insect, disorders (suspected herbicide or other abiotic problems). Please download and print  form PIDC 45 Sample Submission Form

* Fee applies for routine processing, standard morphological and microscopic diagnosis. Contact us before submitting an out-of-state sample for fees and restrictions

DO NOT SEND CASH or payment with your sample, see submission form for details and visit our clinic services and fees page

Additional tests available 

Please note, to request the services below, use the box on our form titled “I give my approval for additional testing fees. (Plant problem diagnosis ONLY)”. We also recommend contacting us prior to submitting a sample for serological testing to ensure that we have the supplies on hand 

Perform rapid serological tests 

  • Immunostrip assays- Common greenhouse virus: CMV, INSV, TMV, & TSWV. If testing in bulk (>5 plants contact us for pricing). * Cost: additional $15 + Standard fee, total cost $35 *Time to result: one business day 
  • ELISA assays- ApMV -Apple Mosaic Virus.  For limited time, please contact us before submitting a sample. * Cost: additional $25 + Standard Fee, total cost $55  *Time to result: 5 business days 

When testing in bulk for specific test not listed above, we may be able to make arrangements to provide a specific service in 15 to 18 business days. *Please note, we do not keep many virus serological tests on hand due to very limited inquiries. If we cannot provide the specific testing needed, there may be testing available from other laboratories or companies. Please contact us for further details. 

Perform DNA testing 

  • Oak wilt (Only offered between June- October). Cost: additional $30+ Standard fee, total cost $50  *Time to result: 10 business days. *follow instruction for oak wilt sampling. Especially recommended for oaks in the white oak trees (lobed leaves), and all oaks after mid-September. This service needs to be performed at sample arrival. 
  •  Apple/Pear Fire blight. Cost: additional $10, total cost $30 * Time to result:10 business days  * submit 5-10 fresh symptomatic (blighted) blossom, shoot and fruits. 
  •  Hops downy mildew. Cost: additional $20, total cost $40 * Time to result: 10 business days *submit 5-10  yellow and curled spikes 
  • Corn- XVV. Cost: additional $10, total cost $30 *Time to result:10 business days  

General Tips for Sample Submission (including packaging and mailing)

Provide freshly collected specimens.

Provide plenty of plant material. When possible send the entire plants, including roots and top growth.

Be sure the specimen represents the problem. Include enough plant material to show all stages of the disease from healthy to sick.

Provide lots of information, such as a description of the soil, nearby plants, and a history of the problem.

Include quality photos when possible. We welcome videos as well.  Send your digital files to pidc@iastate.edu and make sure to include in the subject:  submitter last name, crop and sample submission date (MM/DD/YY). Example: Smith-maple-05/20/15.

For entire plant samples: Bag the roots and seal at the soil line with a twist tie or a rubber band. Use another bag for the above-ground plant parts, but do not cut the root ball off the above-ground plant parts. This will ensure the soil is contained, and it does not make contact with the foliage. See video Collecting Whole Plants For Plant Problem Diagnosis at https://youtu.be/WcY71SSVM0M

Wrap specimens in paper towels or clean newspapers. Do not add moisture. The additional moisture can result in rapid decay of the sample. Pack loosely in a plastic bag to reduce drying.

There is no need to add ice to the packages (except for oak wilt samples, see woody plants section). Ice will either melt and leak or freeze the plant material that is in contact with it, rendering the sample useless.

Mail in a sturdy container. Samples should be enclosed in boxes or another crush-proof packaging. Avoid sending crop/plant samples in flat envelopes because in most cases the sample will arrive too damaged to diagnose.

Keep in mind the transit time. We prefer samples to be sent overnight, but if regular mail is used, the sample will be in transit for up to 4 days, and the quality of the sample may be compromised, so please collect and send them on a Monday if using regular mail.

Specific Plant Submission Instructions

Field Crops

Conifers and Woody Plants

Fruits, Vegetable and annual ornamental crops

Turfgrass