The function of the Birmingham Plant Diagnostic Lab is to identify disease causing pathogens of plants and recommend appropriate treatments for their control. In the human medical field, this is the same function that a diagnostic lab would perform for a medical doctor. The ultimate goal of the diagnostic lab is to reduce the misuse and the overuse of pesticides in our landscape settings. Accurate disease diagnosis is the first step in reaching this goal. Diagnostic techniques include visual as well as microscopic examination, culture isolation, serology, bioassays, and other biotic tests. Soil testing includes pH levels and total soluble salts. Complete soil testing will be referred to the ACES/AAES Soil, Forage, & Water Testing Lab at Auburn University.
The Plant Diagnostic Lab is located at the C. Beaty Hanna Horticulture & Environmental Center. This state-of-the-art facility is staffed with a plant pathologist/diagnostician and offers a place where homeowners and commercial representatives can bring their plants to be diagnosed for a minimal fee. Services include:
- Visual examination for disease as well as for insect, nutritional, cultural, and herbicide problems
- Microscopic evaluation to determine a disease-causing agent
- Tissue culture isolation for various fungal or bacterial identification
- A variety of specific diagnostic tests as needed
- Soil pH testing (Regular soil testing will be conducted at Auburn University.)
- Collaboration with the ACES/AAES Soil, Forage, & Water Testing Lab at Auburn University, entomologists, weed scientists, horticulturists, and pathologists