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Smut Fungus on Cereals

Smut Fungus on Cereals

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Published by draculavanhelsing
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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: draculavanhelsing on May 26, 2011
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04/14/2014

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Department of
Agriculture
and
Food
For more inormation visit www.agric.wa.gov.au
The Chie Executive Ofcer o the Department o Agriculture and Food and the State o Western Australia accept no liabilitywhatsoever by reason o negligence or otherwise arising rom the use or release o this inormation or any part o it.
 
Important disclaimer
Biology, identication andmanagement of cereal smutdiseases
Note: 455
January 2011replaces Farmnote 27/87
Cereal smut and bunt diseases are caused byungi which parasitise the host plant and producemasses o soot-like spores in the leaves, grainsor ears. These ungi are important pathogenso cereal crops, reducing yield and quality oharvested grain. In many cases grain receivalpoints have low or zero tolerance o smutcontaminated grain.The major Western Australian cereal crops, wheat,barley and oats, are susceptible to a range o smutand bunt diseases. Generally, smut diseases arehost specifc, meaning that smut o one cerealcrop will not inect others (or example, loose smuto wheat does not inect barley or oats).Smut diseases have one o two distinct lie cycles:internally seed-borne or externally seed-borne.It is important to know the type o smut and itslie cycle in order to determine eective controloptions.
Internally seed-borne smut diseases
Loose smut o barley and wheat are internallyseed-borne and carried as a small colony oungus inside the seed embryo rather than asspores on the seed coat. These are the onlyinternally seed-borne smuts that occur in Australian cereal crops. Contaminated machineryand soil do not transmit these diseases.
Loose smut of wheat and barley
Loose smut o barley ( 
Ustilago nuda
 ) and wheat
Ustilago tritici
 ) are caused by dierent ungalspecies specifc to the crop they inect, however
By Geoff Thomas, Dominie Wright, Ciara Beard and Kith Jayasena, Plant Pathologists
Figure 1 Loose smut of barley. (A) Infected head laden with spores (note the spores are uncontained by the head unlike covered smut). (B) Infected head after releasing spores onto adjacent healthy heads.
 
they have similar lie cycles. Inected seed showsno symptoms and appears normal. When inectedseed germinates, the ungus becomes active andgrows slowly in the growing point o the plant.Diseased plants appear to grow normally butmay be slightly taller and earlier maturing thansurrounding healthy plants. At heading, the ungusorms a compact spore mass to replace all oretswithin the cereal head (Figure 1). All tillers on aninected plant can produce smutted heads andinected plants produce little or no grain. The blackpowdery spores blow away to leave a bare stalkor rachis. The spores are released as the rest othe crop is owering. They inect the developinggrains o healthy plants and remain dormant untilsown the next season. Frequent rain showers andhigh humidity at owering avour inection. Thehigher rainall southern areas o Western Australiaare traditionally the worst areas or loose smut owheat and barley.Yield loss is directly related to the level o inectionin sown seed. Grain receival points accept smallquantities o loose smut contamination in wheatand barley beore applying dockages.Use o disease ree seed is the most eectivemethod to avoid loose smut. The disease iscontrolled by pickling seed with a systemicungicide which penetrates the developingseedling to kill the internal inection. Cereal seeddressing ungicides dier in their efcacy orsmut management. In-urrow and oliar ungicideapplication are not eective. Seed known to carryhigh levels o loose smut should not be sown.Genetic resistance to reduce the impact o thesediseases is being introduced into local varieties.
Externally seed-borne smut diseases
For the majority o smut diseases (exceptloose smut o wheat and barley), spores arecarried externally on the seed surace, ound ascontaminants in machinery, or all to the groundduring harvest and remain in the soil. Externallyseed borne smut diseases include common buntand ag smut o wheat, covered smut o barleyand covered smut and loose smut o oats. Duringharvest the smutted parts o the cereal plantare broken apart spreading smut spores andcontaminating healthy seed, machinery and soil.Seed and soil borne spores remain dormant oversummer and germinate in the ollowing seasonunder cool moist conditions, inecting the seedlingbeore emergence. The ungus grows within theplant, eventually orming smutted heads or leaves(in the case o ag smut). Inected seed is theprimary inoculum source o externally seed-bornesmuts. The soil-borne phase is a particularlyimportant source o inection in ag smut and maybe important or common bunt o wheat.
Common bunt of wheat (stinking bunt, stinkingsmut, ball smut)
In wheat plants inected with bunt ( 
Tilletia laevis
 and
Tilletia caries
 ), the ungus replaces the insideo the developing seed with a mass o stinkingbunt spores. Inected plants are difcult to identiyprior to harvest but may be slightly stunted. Atmaturity, inected heads may be darker colouredwith the glumes containing the ‘bunt balls’ spreadapart more than on healthy heads. Inectedkernels are greyish-brown (Figure 2). When theragile seed coat is crushed or broken, the soot-like spore mass with its characteristic stinkingfshy odour is revealed. Bunt spores can survive insoil or at least one year and on seed or severalyears.Bunt is relatively uncommon in Western Australiadue to the widespread use o seed dressingungicides. I bunt inection does occur, seed
Figure 2 (A) Bunted wheat head. (B) Bunt infected wheat seeds.
 
rom the aected crop should not be re-sownand machinery that handled contaminatedgrain should be thoroughly cleaned. Soil-borneinoculum will diminish over time but contaminatedpaddocks should preerably not be sown to wheator at least one year. Other crops can be grownas a disease break crop because wheat is theonly host o this disease. In the break crop year,any wheat regrowth should be destroyed beore itreaches maturity to prevent carryover o inection.Subsequent wheat crops in the aected paddocksand adjoining paddocks should be sown withungicide protected seed. Some variety resistanceis available.Yield losses rom this disease are usually minimaland are proportional to the level o inectedplants. The greatest impact o this disease is ongrain quality, particularly the colour and odourassociated with bunt spores. There is nil toleranceo bunt contamination in all grades o wheat atgrain receival points. Contaminated grain is nottoxic and can be saely ed to stock. However,the strong odour rom bunt may cause eedreusal and eeding bunted grain may contaminatepreviously disease ree areas.
Flag smut of wheat
Flag smut o wheat ( 
Urocystis tritici
 ) diersrom other cereal smut diseases by exhibitingsymptoms in the leaves rather than the heads. Aected plants are oten stunted and inectedleaves may be curled and distorted. Initially, thespore masses are invisible under the lea surace,but between stem elongation and heading, theybreak through the surace as distinct, long, raisedstreaks o sooty spores on leaves and lea sheaths(Figure 3). Inected plants can tiller excessivelybut symptoms do not always occur on all tillers. Aected tillers do not usually produce grain.Spores o this ungus are carried on seed and insoil, the spores can survive in soil up to sevenyears. Resistant varieties are available. Thisdisease is well-managed by ungicide seeddressing and occurs only sporadically, usuallyollowing successive plantings o untreatedsusceptible varieties. In paddocks contaminatedwith ag smut, use clean ungicide-treated seed oresistant varieties to reduce disease risk.
Covered smut of barley
Many o the symptoms o covered smut o barley
Ustilago hordei
 ) are similar to common buntin wheat. Externally seed-borne or soil-bornespores germinate and inect the seedling prior toemergence. Inected heads may emerge slightlylater than healthy heads and become trapped inthe boot and emerge rom the lea sheath belowthe ag lea. All o the grains in an inected headare replaced by brown-black masses o spores(Figure 4). The smut masses do not break upreadily or blow away as happens with loose smut.The smut spores are released during harvest andcontaminate clean seed, machinery and soil. Thepresence o barley smut may downgrade qualityor exclude barley rom delivery.This disease is well-managed by regularapplication o ungicide seed dressing.Contaminated seed is the primary disease sourceand should not be re-sown. Resistant varieties areavailable.
Loose and covered smut of oats
Loose smut ( 
Ustilago avenae
 ) and covered smut
Ustilago hordei
 ) o oats are both externally seed-borne diseases with similar symptoms which aredifcult to distinguish in the feld. Both diseasesare managed in the same way.
Figure 3 Flag smut of wheat. Infected leaves with long black  streaks of ag smut spores.Figure 4 Covered smut of barley. Note the spores arecontained within the head unlike loose smut.

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