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Our Laboratories

Our Laboratories and their Services

Molecular methods are being increasingly utilised in the detection of plant pathogens. These methods are fast, accurate and more sensitive for detection. At KEPHIS molecular laboratory, we offers world-class pest diagnostic services using molecular technologies such as Conventional Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), Real time PCR Loop Mediated Isothermal amplification (LAMP) among others. The laboratory supports all other plant health labs and other activities like genetic purity testing for seeds such as maize. This lab has several methods accredited by KENAS under the ISO/IEC 17025:2017 scheme.

“Nematodes cause major yield losses in many crops by attacking the roots, and in some cases the leaves. From sample matrixes such as soil, water, seed and root samples, the lab is adequately equipped and staffed and has capacity in identification of all important plant parasitic nematodes including both vermiform and cyst forming nematodes. Accurate analysis allows the lab to offer advisory services on suitable nematode management recommendations.

This laboratory has the capacity to diagnose and identify all fungal plant pathogens of importance to agricultural, horticultural, ornamental and cereal crops. Samples received include plant roots, fruits, stems, tubers and leaves. The lab carries out fungal tests e.g. by direct isolation and culturing with facilities such as incubation under near-UV to facilitate fungal sporulation. The lab also has capacity for molecular identification and DNA barcording of all fungal pathogens in addition to the more traditional microscopic identification. The results are used for phytosanitary decision making in support of exports and imports as well as making recommendations on disease management.

The Bacteriology laboratory is focused on identification of bacterial pathogens of agricultural and horticultural crops both from imported and export plant materials, as well as for supporting national seed certification. The lab also receives samples from farmers as well as from KEPHIS inspectors during their routine inspection and surveillance activities. The lab carries out tests using several techniques ranging from growth on selective media, serology (NCM and DAS ELISA), biochemical and molecular techniques. A practical recommendation is given to clients with each report. The laboratory is also ISO/IEC 17025: 2017 accredited by KENAS

KEPHIS Virology laboratory has capacity to analyze numerous plant viruses. This is achieved through different approaches which include Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assays (NCM, DAS-ELISA, TAS-ELISA and Immuno strips kits), mechanical inoculation, grafting, grow-out tests and molecular techniques. The laboratory is ISO/IEC 17025:2017 accredited and supports clean germplasm exchange and distribution where high value crops undergo virus indexing in the laboratory to test for various viruses. The plant materials found to be free are recommended for further multiplication and distribution. Materials that are found to be infected with viruses are taken to Tissue culture laboratory where they undergo virus clean up using thermotherapy, chemotherapy and meristem tip culture.

This lab has the capacity and expertise to identifying all types of insect (and other arthropod) pests using morphological identification as well as by use of DNA barcording molecular techniques. The lab is equipped with the insect incubation chambers, an X ray insect identification machine and several high-powered microscopes. The lab maintains a reference collection of insect samples identified. The lab has been involved in the identification, rapid response and sustained management of important pests such as the Fall Armyworm, False Codling Moth, Desert Locust, Papaya Mealybug and several Fruit fly species adversely affecting agriculture in the country and region.

The tissue culture laboratory facilitates germplasm exchange through cleaning of virus infected breeders' seed or high value plant materials using a combination of thermotherapy and meristem tip culture. Virus infected plants are first subjected to thermotherapy treatment, followed by meristem tip excision from the treated plants. These meristem tips are then cultured in vitro to produce disease free clean plant materials/germplasm. To date, the lab has produced clean cassava, potato, sweetpotato, yams and sisal planting materials. As the Centre of Excellence in germplasm exchange in Eastern and Central Africa, the lab has capacity in germplasm exchange, virus cleaning and micro-propagation. The lab also hosts and collaborates with several organizations, such as the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), International Potato Centre (CIP), and the Pyrethrum Directorate and Fibre Crops Directorates of AFA.

It deals with analysis of: fertilizers and manure, soil fertility, heavy metal in fresh produce and environmental samples such as: fish, irrigation water suitability and animal feeds.

The Analytical Chemistry Lab (ACL) which has the following labs evaluates the quality and safety of agricultural inputs such as soil, fertilizer, irrigation water, pesticides and produce.

This lab carries out analyses of: pesticide residue in fresh produce, pesticide formulations and mycotoxin in cereals and groundnuts for Aflatoxins

This lab performs analysis of microbes in food and water for Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, yeasts and moulds

About

Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) is the Government Parastatal whose responsibility is to assure the quality of agricultural inputs and produce to prevent adverse impact on the economy, the environment and human health.