Fungal category. Ustilaginales. Basidiomycetes.



Two families, 50 genera, and 950 species.

Where Found

On cereal crops, grasses, weeds, other fungi, and on other flowering plants.

Mode of Dissemination

Wind disperses the powdery brown teliospores of smut.

Growth Indoors

Smuts do not usually grow indoors. They are parasitic plant pathogens that require a living host for the completion of their life cycle.

Industrial Uses

Not known.

Other Comments

Smuts are members of the Basidiomycetes and have two spore types: teliospores (dry, powdery stage) and basidiospores (yeast stage).

Potential Health Effects


Type I allergies (hay fever, asthma).

Potential Opportunist or Pathogen

No reports of human infection by the plant parasitic forms.

Potential Toxin Production

Not known.

Laboratory Notes

Growth/Culture Characterisics

The airborne phase (teliospores) of smut requires a living host for growth and will not develop on laboratory media. The yeast phase (basidiospores) is saprophytic and will grow on general fungal media.

Spore Trap Recognition

Smut teliospores cannot easily be distinguished from the myxomycetes and certain species of Periconia. They are reported in the "round, brown" spore category: "Smuts, Periconia, myxomycetes."

Tape Lift Recognition

The teliospores of smuts are somewhat distinctive en masse. They are found in dust as part of the normal influx of outdoor particles.