The University of Illinois Plant Clinic has served as a clearinghouse for plant problems since 1976.
Services include plant and insect identification, diagnosis of disease, insect, weed and chemical injury (chemical injury on field crops only), nematode assays, and help with nutrient related problems, as well as recommendations involving these diagnoses. Microscopic examinations, laboratory culturing, virus assays, and nematode assays are some of the techniques used in the clinic.
This multidisciplinary venture is managed through the Crop Sciences Department but relies on input from many departments, including both research and extension components. Most of the diagnostic work is done at the Plant Clinic, but specialists are consulted as needed in the areas of botany, entomology, horticulture, mycology, plant pathology, soils, soil fertility, and weed science, among others.
The Plant Clinic was originally organized to help the county cooperative extension advisors (now referred to as educators) with the wide variety of plant samples that they were asked to diagnose, and to help campus based specialists deal with the constant requests for diagnostic services. The clearinghouse concept has helped in attaining these goals and at the same time has served as a source of information on plant problems in Illinois.
Nematode problems are difficult to diagnose, requiring special equipment and trained personnel to analyze soil extracts. Since few labs in Illinois provide this service for all nematode species, the Plant Clinic has been able to help meet the need for nematode assays. Also, the clinic facility has been used to train personnel from many private laboratories interested in nematode processing, especially for Soybean Cyst Nematode assays.
The success of the Plant Clinic relies on cooperation of many specialists at the University of Illinois. Various specialists representing many different subject areas helped with diagnoses of various plant problems. All paperwork, responses, and recommendations were handled through the Plant Clinic.