At the University of Florida's plant diagnostic clinics, new tools are being assessed for plant disease and insect diagnoses using the advanced application of information technologies. A web-based Distance Diagnostic and Identification System (wbDDIS), for the diagnosis of plant pests based on the electronic transmission of digital images has been created and is currently operational in 40 Florida counties. Digital imaging through dissecting and compound microscopes provide signs of pathogens, details of insects in addition to imaging of field symptoms and damage. Sole reliance on the digital images for accurate diagnosis of pests may not be feasible in all cases. Submission of samples for laboratory testing will be required for some samples. For many insects, fungal diseases, mushrooms, and weeds, however, tentative or specific identification will be possible. Therefore, we initiated a project for the validation of DDIS for plant disease and insect diagnosis. Practical and educational aspects of DDIS in the extension diagnostics will be discussed.
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