Sporisorium sacchari (Asian sugarcane smut)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Host Plants and Other Plants Affected
- Growth Stages
- List of Symptoms/Signs
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Vectors
- Economic Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Detection and Inspection
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Sporisorium sacchari (Rabenh.) K. Vánky 1985
Preferred Common Name
- Asian sugarcane smut
Other Scientific Names
- Sphacelotheca sacchari (Rabenh.) Cif. 1945
- Sphacelotheca sacchari Y. Ling & T.L. Chen 1945
- Ustilago sacchari Rabenh. 1870
- Ustilago sacchari-ciliaris Brefeld 1895
International Common Names
- English: smut of Saccharum
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
Little published information exists on this plant pathogenic fungus of limited geographic distribution. S. sacchari is one of several Asian species only parasitizing the flowers of Saccharum species, thus causing much less damage to the plants than does the more widespread sugarcane smut that infects buds and reduces the growth of shoots. Although windborne, and probably contaminating seeds, S. sacchari spreads less well with the vegetatively propagated cane plants. Nevertheless, its effects on other possible hosts could pose a threat to native or agricultural plants if it were introduced.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Fungi
- Phylum: Basidiomycota
- Subphylum: Ustilaginomycotina
- Class: Ustilaginomycetes
- Subclass: Ustilaginomycetidae
- Order: Ustilaginales
- Family: Ustilaginaceae
- Genus: Sporisorium
- Species: Sporisorium sacchari
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
Vánky (1985; 1987) transferred this species to the genus Sporisorium because of its grass host, agreeing with Langdon and Fullerton (1978) that species of Sphacelotheca are restricted to smuts on dicotyledonous plants in the Polygonaceae. Later molecular taxonomic work on the smuts showed that Sphacelotheca belongs in the Microbotryales and that this order is more closely related to the rusts (Pucciniomycetes) than the smuts (Ustilaginomycetes) (Vánky, 2006). Sporisorium is closely related to Ustilago, the type genus of Ustilaginaceae (Piepenbring et al., 2002; Stoll et al., 2003). Among these “true” smuts, morphological characters of the sorus, previously used in taxonomy, are not phylogenetically informative, appearing to be influenced by the host (Stoll et al., 2005), such that additional close examination is required to distinguish genera and species.
The name Sphacelotheca sacchari Y. Ling & T.L. Chen 1945 is a later homonym of the combination made by Ciferri earlier the same year (Vánky, 2007). Ling and Chen did not designate a type, and the type for Rabenhorst’s Ustilago sacchari was destroyed by fire, so that comparisons cannot be made, but Vánky (2000; 2007) agreed with Ling (1953) that the Chinese species is probably a synonym.
DescriptionTop of page
Sori in swollen ovaries, ovoid to short cylindrical, 3-5 mm long, partly hidden by parts of floret; spore masses covered by a pale-brown membrane (peridium) rupturing irregularly, usually at apex, exposing blackish-brown, semi-agglutinated to powdery masses surrounding a short, tapering columella of plant and fungus tissue. Spores initially aggregated in very loose spore balls, 25-30 µm diameter, separating later, globose, subglobose, or ovoid to slightly irregular, 7-10 x 7-11(-12) µm, yellowish-brown; wall approximately 1 µm thick, finely and densely echinulate, spore profile appearing smooth or near smooth. Spore germination produces 3-septate basidia bearing fusiform basidiospores. See Mundkur (1942) and Vánky (2007).
DistributionTop of page
This species is distributed in a wide range of the warmer parts of Asia, from Iran to the Philippines, but is recorded from only parts of India and China (EPPO, 2009). Ciferri (1938) identified it as introduced to Italy, but Vanky (1994) did not indicate that it had become established. One record (Piepenbring, 2002) apparently reports an accidental introduction into Colombia.
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.Last updated: 23 Apr 2020
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Bangladesh||Present||CABI (Undated); EPPO (2020)||As Bengal; Original citation: Mundkur and Thirumalachar (1952)|
|China||Present||Native||Ling (1953); Tai (1979); Guo (2002); EPPO (2020); CABI (Undated)|
|-Fujian||Present||Ling (1953); CABI (Undated)|
|-Hainan||Present||Guo (2002); CABI (Undated)|
|-Sichuan||Present||Ling (1953); EPPO (2020)|
|-Zhejiang||Present||CABI (Undated)||Original citation: Teng (1996)|
|India||Present||CABI (Undated); EPPO (2020)||Original citation: Mundkur and Thirumalachar (1952)|
|-Bihar||Present||CABI (Undated); EPPO (2020)||Original citation: Mundkur and Thirumalachar (1952)|
|-Punjab||Present||CABI (Undated); EPPO (2020)||Original citation: Mundkur and Thirumalachar (1952)|
|-Uttar Pradesh||Present||CABI (Undated); EPPO (2020)||Original citation: Mundkur and Thirumalachar (1952)|
|Iran||Present||Mundkur (1942); Vánky (1985); EPPO (2020)|
|Malaysia||Present||CABI (Undated a); EPPO (2020)||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Peninsular Malaysia||Present||Zundel (1953); EPPO (2020); CABI (Undated)|
|Pakistan||Present||Ahmad et al. (1997); EPPO (2020)|
|Philippines||Present||Reinking (1919); EPPO (2020)|
|Thailand||Present||Shivas et al. (2007)|
|Italy||Absent, Intercepted only||Ciferri (1938); EPPO (2020)|
|Colombia||Absent, Intercepted only||Piepenbring (2002)|
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
The risk of introduction is associated with possible transport of vegetative seed stock or of true seed for use in breeding/hybridization of cultivated species of Saccharum, but is diminished by the fact that the fungus does not infect the vegetative parts, only the flowers. If introduced at planting, the fungus would have to survive in the field until flowering, and then succeed in infecting from the soil or stem.
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial – Managed||Cultivated / agricultural land||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-natural||Natural grasslands||Present, no further details||Natural|
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page
Some hosts of this fungus may be identified as species in Erianthus, a synonym of Saccharum (Vánky, 2000). No hosts are clearly shared with Sporisorium scitamineum (Vánky, 2000; 2006) except that Saccharum officinarum, the cultivated sugarcane, has been reported as a host in China (Zundel, 1953; Tai, 1979) and the Philippines (Reinking, 1919).
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
|Saccharum arundinaceum (pin reedgrass)||Poaceae||Wild host|
|Saccharum bengalense||Poaceae||Wild host|
|Saccharum narenga||Poaceae||Wild host|
|Saccharum officinarum (sugarcane)||Poaceae||Main|
|Saccharum ravennae (ravenna grass)||Poaceae||Wild host|
|Saccharum spontaneum (wild sugarcane)||Poaceae||Wild host|
Growth StagesTop of page Flowering stage
SymptomsTop of page
The fungus replaces the ovary and seed in the individual florets with small bodies containing the compacted to powdery, dark, spore balls. Dissemination of the spores leaves the erect, pale, tapering columella in the centre of the floret.
List of Symptoms/SignsTop of page
|Inflorescence / black fungal spores|
|Seeds / galls|
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
Natural dispersal of the smut spores from infected plants is primarily driven by wind (Lee-Lovick, 1978). Accidental Introduction Accidental introduction could occur if spores are present on vegetative planting stock, true seed imported for breeding purposes, or on stems of Saccharum sp. that are marketed or used in construction.
Accidental introduction could occur if spores are present on vegetative planting stock, true seed imported for breeding purposes, or on stems of Saccharum sp. that are marketed or used in construction.
Economic ImpactTop of page
Holliday (1980) indicated that the smuts on sugarcane other than Sporisorium scitamineum are economically unimportant. Due to the fact that the flowers are infected, rather than the buds, S. sacchari has much less effect on the growth of the stems, which are the harvested plant parts.
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Invasiveness
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Has a broad native range
- Has high reproductive potential
- Reproduces asexually
- Host damage
- Negatively impacts agriculture
- Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
- Difficult to identify/detect in the field
Detection and InspectionTop of page
S. sacchari occurs in the individual florets only and is visible as small greyish to dark-brown bodies replacing the ovary and seed. Individual spores mixed with the seed or adhering to stems could only be detected and identified using high magnification light microscopy.
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
Other smut fungi occurring on Saccharum spp. include:
- Sporisorium erianthi [Sphacelotheca erianthi], which differs in having smaller spores (5-9(-10) µm diameter) and larger sterile cells (12-16 µm diameter).
- Sporisorium macrosporum, which differs in having larger spores (11-15 x 12-18 µm diameter), with larger spines.
- Sporisorium pulverulentum, which differs in having larger spores (8-9 (-12) x 9.5-13.0(-14.0) µm diameter), with a serrulate profile.
- Sporisorium scitamineum [Ustilagoscitaminea], which infects buds and shoots and differs in having the sori produced on the inflorescence stem not in the florets, replacing the panicle with a long thin curved body containing small blackish-brown spores, 5.5-7.5 x 6.5(-10.0) µm. Spore walls vary in profile from smooth to echinulate.
- Sporisorium kusanoi [Ustilago kusanoi], which is only reported on Saccharum bengalense, affects the whole inflorescence in the manner of S. scitamineum, and has small, smooth to finely punctate spores, 3.0-5.5 x 3.5-6.5 µm diameter.
For additional information see Vánky (1994; 2007).
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.
Cultural Control and Sanitary Measures
Methods for reducing or destroying the inoculum of Sporisorium scitamineum (Lee-Lovick, 1978) could be applied for S. sacchari, but may not be economically feasible.
Smut caused by S. sacchari is less economically important (Holliday, 1980); therefore the use of resistant varieties, preferred for the control of S. scitamineum (Lee-Lovick, 1978), would be even more preferable for the flower-infecting smut.
Gaps in Knowledge/Research NeedsTop of page
Additional information is needed on the biology of survival between crops and the infection of flowers.
ReferencesTop of page
Reinking OA, 1919. Host index of diseases of economic plants in the Philippines. Philippine Agriculturist, 8:38-54.
Shivas RG; Athipunyakom P; Likhitekaraj S; Butranu W; Bhasabutra T; Somrith A; Vánky K; Vánky C, 2007. An annotated checklist of smut fungi (Ustilaginomycetes) from Thailand. Australasian Plant Pathology, 36(4):376-382. http://www.publish.csiro.au/nid/39.htm
CABI, Undated. Compendium record. Wallingford, UK: CABI
CABI, Undated a. CABI Compendium: Status inferred from regional distribution. Wallingford, UK: CABI
CABI, Undated b. CABI Compendium: Status as determined by CABI editor. Wallingford, UK: CABI
Shivas R G, Athipunyakom P, Likhitekaraj S, Butranu W, Bhasabutra T, Somrith A, Vánky K, Vánky C, 2007. An annotated checklist of smut fungi (Ustilaginomycetes) from Thailand. Australasian Plant Pathology. 36 (4), 376-382. http://www.publish.csiro.au/nid/39.htm DOI:10.1071/AP07036
ContributorsTop of page
06/11/09 Original text by:
Distribution MapsTop of page
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