The Plant Disease Clinic is a service laboratory situated within
the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Stellenbosch.
The clinic started its activities in October 2000, and specialists
in the field of plant pathology diagnose problems on the samples received.
We diagnose all types of fungal or bacterial diseases on various crops,
including trees, shrubs, vegetables, fruit, ornamentals, etc. Viral
diseases, insect problems and leaf analysis for nutritional shortages
are not handled by us, but can, on request, be send to experts in
the particular field. Diagnosis can take between one and 2 weeks to
be completed, although new diseases necessitate additional pathogenicity
tests, which may take longer. Each sample submitted will receive a
written diagnostic report, explaining the findings, and listing any
available control recommendations.
We aim to provide fast but accurate diagnoses and always seeks new
methods for minimising diagnosis time. The digital camera, used conventionally
or through the microscope lense, has become a useful diagnostic aid.
This enables us to forward digital images of pathogen structures to
international experts for verification. Experience gained through
work done for the private sector is shared with producers. We also
provide valuable practical training for under- and postgraduate students.
samples for analysis, please keep a few things in mind:
Examine the plant carefully. Symptoms may appear at some distance
from the actual site of infection. Look for any irregularities or
injuries on the lower portion of the plant.
Collect a sample that is representative of the condition in question.
It is important that you try to collect the sample prior to any pesticide
applications - once pesticides have been applied, it may be difficult
to obtain an accurate diagnosis.
The sample to be submitted should, when possible, contain all parts
of the plant.
Include enough material showing the full range of development of the
disease, from healthy to maximum disease development. Collect the
sample from an area that shows early development of the problem, as
areas, which contain mostly dead plant material, often contain a number
of secondary organisms which complicates the identification of the
Wrap samples in dry paper towelling, paper bags or clean newspaper.
(Do not add moisture) and pack loosely in a plastic bag to prevent
excessive drying. Package in a sturdy container for transit.
Send only freshly collected samples and use the most rapid transit
method. Diagnosis can be difficult, if not impossible, when delays
result in extensive deterioration of the sample.
If the sample cannot be send to us promptly, keep it refrigerated
or out of direct sunlight.
Hints for specific plant material:
1. Fleshy fruits, roots, and tubers - wrap enough clean, absorbent
material such as paper towelling to absorb any leakage. DO
NOT place samples in plastic bags. Package in a sturdy
container to prevent crushing.
2. Woody plants - for smaller plants submit an entire plant. Cover
roots and soil with a plastic bag. Canker, dieback etc. on trees or
shrubs - cut the branch several centimetres beyond each end of the
affected area, so as to include some healthy wood. Dead, deteriorating
branches are often worthless as samples.
3. Turf - lift a section of the turf so that healthy grass, along
with the margin and the central parts of the affected area, is included
in the sample. Enclose the entire sample in a plastic bag. When collecting
samples from more than one area, use separate bags.
4. Garden plants, green house plants - dig up (do not pull) complete
plants, leaving roots and soil intact.
When submitting samples for diagnosis, please
keep the following in mind:
Please fill in the submission form when submitting a sample. (The form
can also be faxed to you or downloaded as a .pdf file.)
Providing as much information on the form as possible will help in ensuring
an accurate diagnosis of the problem.
Be sure you include the form with your sample. You may also want to
keep one copy of the form for your records.
For faster response, include your fax number or e-mail address and indicate
how you would prefer to receive the results.
The invoice will be send with the report.
Courier the sample as fast as possible. Possible couriers include:
Sun, Courier, XPS, DHL, TNT
There is no courier delivery at the University of Stellenbosch over
weekends or on public holidays. To ensure your sample get processed
as soon as possible, collect and send samples to reach us not later
than the Friday morning of a regular week. During weeks with public
holidays, please call in advance to make arrangements.
Please feel free to call the clinic with any questions prior to your
Contact and hours of
Hours of Operation:
The clinic is open 08:00 till 16:30, Mondays to Fridays.
Manager: Sonja Coertze
Consultant: Tammy Jensen
Photo from left to right:
Tammy Jensen and Sonja Coertze
Department of Plant Pathology
Private Bag X1
Department of Plant Pathology
Corner of Victoria and Neethling street
(021) 808 4798 / 808 4223
(021) 808 4956
Miss S Coertze
Pagemaster: Tel +27(21) 808 4799
Last update: 15 January 2013