Zack is a Plant Disease and Insect Diagnostician working at the Diagnostic Clinic at the Bartlett Tree Research Laboratory and Arboretum in Charlotte, North Carolina. He mainly diagnoses biotic and abiotic plant problems using various lab techniques, particularly microscopy and culturing. The Diagnostic Clinic staff identifies plant problems and provides management recommendations to aid in plant health care.
Samples, accompanied by additional site information, are sent to the lab by Bartlett Arborists, where they are categorized based on the type of testing needed. Diagnosticians then look for clues to narrow down the problem and identify if a biotic (pest or pathogen) or abiotic (non-living) issue has affected the plant. Knowledge of plant hosts, diseases, pests (insects and mites), location/site, soil and foliar nutrient levels, recent environmental events, chemistry, modes of action of chemical controls, and more is necessary to identify the cause of the problem. Another important component of Zack’s job is to transfer the diagnostic information to the Arborist Representative and client via a scientific report that includes cultural and chemical management recommendations.