Diagnostic Clinic

Chief personnel and activities 

Francesca Rotondo - Plant Pathology, Clinic Director, State Diagnostician (2020-23)

Dr. Francesca Rotondo is the Program Director of  the OSU C. Wayne Ellett Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic, CFAES Wooster Campus. The Clinic offers a broad spectrum of testing for residential and commercial clients to identify pests and cultural/environmental related plant health issues. 

Prior to this position, Dr. Rotondo was Research Associate in Dr. Sally A. Miller’s research group in the Department of Plant Pathology at The Ohio State University),working mainly on bacterial diseases of tomato and their management. Under the leadership of Dr. Miller, Dr. Rotondo coordinated the Ohio State Vegetable Pathology Lab’s diagnostics services by being actively involved in the diagnostic process and interactions with growers and Extension Educators.

She received her degrees from the University of Bologna, Italy (B.Sc. in Biology, M.S. in Environmental Ecology, and Ph.D. in Plant Pathology).

The C. Wayne Ellett Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic (CWEPPDC) offers unbiased identification and diagnosis of routine and unusual biotic and abiotic plant and pest problems, one of the cornerstones of IPM. The Clinic supports 88 counties throughout Ohio averaging >750 submissions annually in the broad categories of production agriculture, nursery, landscape and arborist industries, and the public at large. Each sample submitted to the CWEPPDC presents an opportunity to educate clients about the IPM process starting with identification and ending in management options. The CWEPPDC utilizes traditional and modern diagnostic procedures ranging from microscopy to molecular methods to provide identification and diagnosis of plant disease, abiotic, insect and/or nematode problems as appropriate to the sample submitted.  To help stakeholders understand basic clinic operations, short videos will be created and posted to the OSU IPM YouTube channel to help the public diagnose and managing key pests based on clinic submissions. Clinic staff also supports many grower field days and diagnostic events.

Joy Pierzynski - Plant Pathology, Retired (2017-19)

Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic – Joy Pierzynski

The C. Wayne Ellett Plant & Pest Diagnostic Clinic processed 827 samples for clientele during the second year of the IPM grant (2019).  The Clinic received both homeowner and commercial samples from 67 Ohio counties, plus samples from the surrounding states and California. The types of samples processed through the clinic included ornamentals and turf (72%), soybean cyst nematode and field crops (17%), insect identification (7%), fruit and vegetables (4%). In the summer of 2019, a video showing how to identify and manage Rhizosphaera needle cast of conifers was posted to the OSU IPM YouTube site and has been viewed over 40 times.

This year the Clinic began moving toward a more molecular-based approach in plant disease diagnostics by incorporating additional real-time PCR protocols for a faster turn-around time and definitive results for its clientele base.  In addition, a plan is in the works for the Clinic to add DNA and RNA sequencing when essential and conclusive plant pathogen identification is needed.  Currently, the Clinic sends isolated DNA from symptomatic plant tissue to the James Cancer Center in Columbus for sequencing.   


Helping Homeowners Grow Healthy Hosta’s – Joy Pierzynski

A hosta workshop on important diseases of this commonly used landscape plant in Ohio was organized in February 2019, as part of a larger hosta program for OSU Master Gardeners located in Greene and Montgomery Counties.  The well-attended workshop was targeted toward new and experienced Master Gardeners in the identification of hosta diseases and their IPM management strategies. The workshop covered information on the history of the hosta plant, various uses in different countries, the disease triangle, three of the most important diseases of hosta, various symptoms and signs of the diseases at various stages, disease epidemiology, and a number of IPM management strategies aimed at reducing or preventing the spread of the diseases in the landscape. Many of the attendees were familiar with or had some knowledge of hosta plants before the program.  This workshop helped develop basic disease knowledge and hosta-disease identification skills.  

Participants were given an evaluation after the workshop had ended. Results of the evaluation indicate that 35% of participants (n=49) were very confident or extremely confident in their identification and management of disease X. Likewise, participants indicated they were very confident or extremely confident in identifying (37%) and managing petiole stem rot (35%). When asked how likely they were to use at least one of the IPM tactics presented from the meeting today, 92% said very likely or extremely likely.


Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic - Joy Pierzynski

In June 2018, The Ohio State University welcomed me as the new Program Director of the C. Wayne Ellett Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic (PPDC). After obtaining BS and MS degrees from Michigan State University and a PhD from Kansas State University, I was trained in diagnostics by the Program Director for the Research & Extension Plant Disease Clinic at Kansas State University.

The PPDC has served the green house and nursery industries, producers, researchers, homeowners, arborists, and Extension Educators within and outside the state of Ohio for many decades using traditional plant diagnostic methods including visual and microscopic inspection, culturing, and in more recent years serologic and molecular diagnostic methods. With specific diagnostic capabilities located in Columbus and Wooster campuses, the Reynoldsburg lab will continue to coordinate all diagnostic services for a seamless interface to our clientele. Over the past year, the clinic processed over 400 samples through its Reynoldsburg location. Additional information can be found at ppdc.osu.edu.


Chief personnel and activities (2014-16)

Nancy Taylor, Francesca Hand, Collette Gabriel - Plant Pathology 

Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic - Nancy Taylorextracting scn eggs

During the time period of this report the C. Wayne Ellett Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic processed 615 samples for its clientele.  Samples were received from 57 Ohio counties, including both commercial and noncommercial interests. The types of samples processed were categorized as ornamentals and turf (56%), field crops (30%), and fruit, vegetable, and insect identification requests made up the remaining 14%.

Ornamental Workshop - Nancy Taylor, Francesca Peduto Hand

An introductory workshop on ornamental diseases and insects was organized for OSU Extension educators representing 23 different counties in May 2015. It has since been given two more times in 2016 and 2017. This workshop targeted newly hired and seasoned educators who do not necessarily have a background in ornamentals but deal with the commodity as part of their local responsibilities.  The workshop covered basic principles of plant pathology (i.e. pathogen types, symptoms and signs of disease), how to diagnose common diseases of landscape ornamentals, and how to identify common insect pests. Most of the attendants identified themselves as not having a plant pathology or entomology background, therefore this session was well targeted to develop basic skills and competencies.   


Chief personnel and activities (2013)

Nancy Taylor, Collette Gabriel - Plant Pathology 

Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic - Nancy Taylor

Backyard growers, commercial growers, and Ohio residents submit samples to the OSU plant and pest diagnostic clinic to determinetheidentity of insect and disease pests attacking crops, turf, lanscape and nursury plants. In the past year, 828 samples were submitted to the main clinic and 300 specialty crop disease samples were submitted to the Miller lab for diagnosis. Once diagnosed, the clinic sends a report with standard treatment recommendations and factsheets as necessary to help further explain the pest or condition.

During the project period services were utilized in 67 of Ohio's 88 counties. Over 50% of samples were submitted by homeowners (165), Extension educators (100), arborists (160), and landscapers (102) predominantly in the areas of woody ornamentals (416), field crops (148), insect identification (92) and herbaceous ornamentals (82).