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Diagnostic Services
at Michigan State University

101 Center for Integrated Plant Systems
East Lansing, MI 48824-1311
Phone: (517) 355-4536
Fax: (517) 432-0899

Plant Health Analysis

Herbaceous Plants: Send whole plants, when possible, including roots and soil.  Roots and soil should be in a plastic bag tied off at the soil line to prevent soil from touching foliage. DO NOT SUBMIT SAMPLES IN PAPER BAGS!

Vascular Wilt Diseases including Verticillium Wilt, Dutch Elm Disease, Oak Wilt.Select branches that are partially wilted, with symptomatic leaves progressing from the tip of branches inward to thte trunk.  Be sure that branches are not totally wilted, dry or dead.

  • Select samples from up to three symptomatic branches per single tree.  Branch samples should be at least 1 inch in diameter, cut into 6- to 8- inch lengths, and placed in large resealable plastic bags. DO NOT include wet paper towel with sample.
  • Keep samples cool during sampling, shipping and storage, but do not freeze. 
  • Ship samples overnight mail (no later than Thursday) or deliver in person to the laboratory.

Seedlings: Leave plants in plug sheets or trays if possible.  Send a minimum of 12 seedlings per sample. DO NOT SUBMIT SAMPLES IN PAPER BAGS!

Turf: Include a square of turf from the margin of the diseased area so that both healthy and diseased turf is included.  An intact layer of soil should remain on the root system.  Wrap samples in newspaper and pack in a box for shipment.  Do not add moisture to the turf prior to shipment.  Provide a detailed description of cultural practices (irrigation, fertilization, pesticide application, etc.) with the sample.

*Note: Diagnostic Services does not perform health analysis of golf course turf.  Contact Dr. Joe Vargas, MSU Plant Pathology, at 517-353-9082.  Golf Turf Diagnostic Submittal Form.

Leaf spot and Fruit rot: Send several affected samples representing the early and moderate stages of symptom progression. DO NOT SUBMIT SAMPLES IN PAPER BAGS!

Shipping out of state sample If sending samples from outside of Michigan infected plant material MUST be double sealed in plastic bags (eg. two zip-loc freezer bags).  Place the sealed bags in a sturdy shipping container.

Weed / Plant Samples

Herbaceous Plant Identification: Submit whole plants, including roots, vegetative structures and flowers.  Plants may be pressed flat between paper or cardboard to prevent leaf crinkling.  For best results, plants should be submitted immediately after digging.  Roots and soil should be in a plastic bag, tied at soil line, to prevent soil from touching the foliage.

Woody Plant Identification: Submit a large section of the terminal end of the stem or branch.  Where possible, include any flower or fruiting structures, roots and leaves.  Leaves may be pressed flat between paper or cardboard to prevent leaf crinkling.  Woody plants may be wrapped in plastic to retain moisture.

Shipping out of state sample
If sending samples from outside of Michigan plant material MUST be double sealed in plastic bags (eg. two zip-loc freezer bags).  Place the sealed bags in a sturdy shipping container.


DO NOT SUBMIT SAMPLES IN PAPER BAGS!
Nematode Samples

Refer to MSU Extension Bulletin E-2199, "Detecting and Avoiding Nematode Problems."

Always store nematode samples in plastic bags or other containers that retain moisture. DO NOT SUBMIT SAMPLES IN PAPER BAGS!   Submit a pint to a quart of soil per sample.  Proper sampling method

Problem Diagnosis: Collect soil & roots (or foliage) from the margins of diseased areas.  Submit samples of diseased and apparently healthy plants.

Problem Avoidance: Collect soil & roots (if available) by walking a zigzag or w-shaped pattern.  The more sub-samples (soil, cores, probes, etc.) collected the "better" the sample.

Pine wood nematode:  A sample should consist of branches that are showing symptoms and are at least 1 inch in diameter.  Branches can be in cut into 6 to 8 inch pieces and shipped to Diagnostic Services.  If the tree has already been cut down, a wedge from the trunk may also be submitted.  For more information regarding Pine wood nematode and Pine wilt disease refer to the Pine Wilt Nematode Diagnostic Factsheet.

Shipping out of state sample
If sending samples from outside of Michigan plant material or soil MUST be double sealed in plastic bags (eg. two zip-loc freezer bags).  Place the sealed bags in a sturdy shipping container.

Insect / Arthropod Samples

Precise identification of insect or other arthropods requires specimens to be undamaged upon arrival in the lab.  It is very important to kill and ship the specimens in a manner that will not damage the delicate structures that facilitate their identification.  Dried and unprotected insects crumble easily during the mail process.  Kill and ship specimens in a small, leak proof container filled with white vinegar. 

Moths / Butterflies: Place specimens in the freezer for half an hour to kill them and gently pack in a small box or vial with tissue paper.

Ants / Other Adult Arthropods: Ant specimens should only include worker ants (i.e. those without wings). Submit ants and all other hard-bodied specimens in vinegar. 

Larvae (Caterpillar, grub, maggot, etc.): Whenever possible, soft-bodied larvae should be lightly boild for a few minutes before placing them in vinegar.  This prevents the specimens from shriveling and becoming discolored, however this only works if the larvae are alive when placed in the boiling water.

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