Plant Protection
Corn Fungus Management
Corn smut

Corn smut is caused by the basidiomycete fungus Ustilago maydis, sometimes called Ustilago zeae-maydis, which is pictured to the left in a photograph by Deon Nontelle of the Biology Department here at the UW-La Crosse. The common name "smut" comes from the appearance of the ripe galls containing thousands of dark sooty spores.

The large black sac you see are the teliospores, the resting spores of the fungus that are produced to help the fungus overcome harsh conditions, such as drought and especially winter. The teliospores drop to the ground or are spread by the wind. In the spring they germinate to form basidia, which produce basidiospores. These basidiospores are the actual infective agent of the corn. Although many parts of the plant can be infected, most of the time the kernels of corn are the actual point of infection.

corn smut

The fungus grows through the kernel and causes two things to happen that cause massive smut galls to form:a.hypertrophy-- enlargement of the host cells, b.hyperplasia-- uncontrolled cell division.

Chemical control: carbendazim

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