Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Kabatiella zeae



Kabatiella zeae (eyespot)


  • Last modified
  • 19 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Kabatiella zeae
  • Preferred Common Name
  • eyespot
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Fungi
  •     Phylum: Ascomycota
  •       Subphylum: Pezizomycotina
  •         Class: Dothideomycetes

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Early symptoms of eyespot, appearing in June.
TitleEarly symptoms
CaptionEarly symptoms of eyespot, appearing in June.
CopyrightAgata Tekiela
Early symptoms of eyespot, appearing in June.
Early symptomsEarly symptoms of eyespot, appearing in June.Agata Tekiela
Early symptoms of eyespot, appearing in July.
TitleEarly symptoms
CaptionEarly symptoms of eyespot, appearing in July.
CopyrightAgata Tekiela
Early symptoms of eyespot, appearing in July.
Early symptomsEarly symptoms of eyespot, appearing in July.Agata Tekiela
The total stroke - first symptoms.
CaptionThe total stroke - first symptoms.
CopyrightAgata Tekiela
The total stroke - first symptoms.
SymptomsThe total stroke - first symptoms.Agata Tekiela
The tissue at the centre of the spot later dies and turns tan coloured, with a brown or purple ring at the margin.
CaptionThe tissue at the centre of the spot later dies and turns tan coloured, with a brown or purple ring at the margin.
CopyrightAgata Tekiela
The tissue at the centre of the spot later dies and turns tan coloured, with a brown or purple ring at the margin.
SymptomsThe tissue at the centre of the spot later dies and turns tan coloured, with a brown or purple ring at the margin.Agata Tekiela
Eyespot, showing a yellow halo when backlit.
CaptionEyespot, showing a yellow halo when backlit.
CopyrightAgata Tekiela
Eyespot, showing a yellow halo when backlit.
SymptomsEyespot, showing a yellow halo when backlit.Agata Tekiela


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Kabatiella zeae Narita & Y. Hirats.

Preferred Common Name

  • eyespot

Other Scientific Names

  • Aureobasidium zeae (Narita & Y. Hirats.) Dingley

International Common Names

  • English: eye spot: maize; maize eye spot
  • Spanish: antracnosis del maiz
  • French: brunissure du mais; kabatiellose du mais; kabatiellosis; taches oculaires du mais

Local Common Names

  • Germany: Augenfleckenkrankheit: Mais
  • Poland: drobna (oczkowa) plamistosc lisci kukurydzy; drobna plamistosc lisci kukurydzy

EPPO code

  • KABAZE (Kabatiella zeae)

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Fungi
  •         Phylum: Ascomycota
  •             Subphylum: Pezizomycotina
  •                 Class: Dothideomycetes
  •                     Subclass: Dothideomycetidae
  •                         Order: Dothideales
  •                             Family: Dothioraceae
  •                                 Genus: Kabatiella
  •                                     Species: Kabatiella zeae


Top of page Concentrations of conidiomata (acervuli) are produced on a dense mycelium layer (mat) on a small area of the infected plant organ. This is often covered with a skin or cuticle. The conidiomata are small, whitish, flat or convex. Unicellular, colourless, ellipsoidal, slightly curved conidia, 2.5-5.0 x 12-22 µm, are present on the apex (Reifschneider and Arny, 1980).


Top of page Eyespot disease was first identified and described in Japan in 1956. It was later found to be present in the USA (Arny et al., 1971), Canada (Gates and Mortimore, 1969) and in Europe.

Distribution Table

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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.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


ChinaPresentUK CAB International, 1993
-JilinPresentUK CAB International, 1993
-YunnanPresentUK CAB International, 1993
IndiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-West BengalPresentKaiser, 1994
JapanWidespreadUK CAB International, 1993
-HokkaidoPresentUK CAB International, 1993

North America

CanadaRestricted distributionUK CAB International, 1993
-OntarioPresentIntroduced1969Gates and Mortimore, 1969; UK CAB International, 1993
-QuebecPresentIntroduced1975Chez and Hudon, 1975; UK CAB International, 1993
USARestricted distributionUK CAB International, 1993
-IllinoisPresentUK CAB International, 1993
-IndianaPresentUK CAB International, 1993
-IowaPresentUK CAB International, 1993; Wegulo et al., 1997
-MichiganPresentUK CAB International, 1993
-MinnesotaPresentUK CAB International, 1993
-New YorkPresentKashama, 1979; UK CAB International, 1993
-North DakotaPresentCross et al., 2003
-South DakotaPresentIntroduced1985Carson, 1985; UK CAB International, 1993
-WisconsinPresentUK CAB International, 1993

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroduced1972Frezzi, 1972; UK CAB International, 1993; Corcuera and Sandoval, 1998
BrazilPresentUK CAB International, 1993
-Mato Grosso do SulPresentUK CAB International, 1993
-ParanaPresentSantos et al., 2007; Santos et al., 2007
-ParanaPresentSantos et al., 2007; Santos et al., 2007
-Santa CatarinaPresentSantos et al., 2007; Santos et al., 2007
-Santa CatarinaPresentSantos et al., 2007; Santos et al., 2007


AustriaPresentBohm and Glaeser, 1979; Zwatz, 1986; UK CAB International, 1993
BulgariaPresentHooker & Smiljakovic, 1983; Popov and Popova, 1979
CroatiaPresentLevic, 1987; Brekalo et al., 1991; UK CAB International, 1993; Palaversic, 2004
FranceWidespreadIntroduced1971Na´bo & Thierry, 1999; Cassini et al., 1972; Cassini, 1973; Cassini, 1975; UK CAB International, 1993
GermanyPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced1972Schneider and Kruger, 1972; Winter and Menzi, 1991; UK CAB International, 1993
PolandPresent Invasive Czaplinska, 1981; Lisowicz, 2000
PortugalPresentEsteves, 1984
SloveniaPresentPalaversic et al., 2001
UKPresentAnon, 2009
Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)WidespreadUK CAB International, 1993


New ZealandWidespreadIntroduced1971Dingley, 1973; UK CAB International, 1993

Habitat List

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Hosts/Species Affected

Top of page K. zeae is specific to maize.

Growth Stages

Top of page Flowering stage, Fruiting stage, Vegetative growing stage


Top of page The first symptoms of eyespot occur in June. Minor, light-coloured and somewhat translucent spots appear, surrounded by a red-brown ring with a chlorotic yellow halo, easily seen against the light. The leaf spots are circular to oval, 1-4 mm in diameter, and are called eyespots on account of their shape and colour. The spots gradually become darker and the centres, which become more brown, may fall out. The spots are arranged along the leaf vein and are most numerous along the leaf edges. Leaf spots are initially single, but rapidly spread to cover the entire leaf area. The disease is most commonly seen in patches on the leaves. Lesions are most common on older plants and are not commonly seen early in the season. In addition to the leaves, K. zeae attacks the leaf sheath and the leaves covering the ears. The disease can cause severe shrivelling of the ears. The leaves turn yellow and die at the site of infection. Necrotic areas spread causing premature drying of the leaves and thereby a decrease in grain yield (Reifschneider and Arny, 1983). K. zeae inhibits growth and can even cause plant death (Schneider and Kruger, 1972; Czaplinska and Przybysz, 1985). The highest eyespot intensity occurs in August, September and early October. Kabatiella infection on maize leaves remains visible even when the leaves die.

List of Symptoms/Signs

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SignLife StagesType
Leaves / abnormal colours
Leaves / abnormal patterns
Leaves / fungal growth
Leaves / necrotic areas
Leaves / yellowed or dead
Stems / discoloration
Stems / discoloration of bark
Stems / internal red necrosis
Stems / necrosis
Whole plant / early senescence
Whole plant / plant dead; dieback

Biology and Ecology

Top of page The most frequently reported source of eyespot infection is crop debris left over from the previous season (Arny et al., 1971; Reifschneider and Arny, 1983). K. zeae overwinters as stroma, which are formed on infected maize plants at the end of the season. In the spring these stroma produce conidia, which disperse by wind or light rain to the leaves of nearby young maize plants, where they germinate. Secondary spread of the eyespot disease is by wind and water splash of spores from one plant to another. The incubation period for the disease is about 4-10 days, depending on weather conditions. The production of conidia and the development of leaf eyespot are favoured by long periods of cool, wet weather during the growing season (Arny et al., 1971; Czaplinska and Przybysz, 1985; Lipps and Mills, 2005), so regions with cool, moist environments are most affected by the disease. Maize is most susceptible at 10-12°C (HYP3, 2005).

Eyespot is most severe when crop residues are left on the soil at the end of the growing period and in fields where maize is grown continuously (Lipps and Mills, 2005). Careful cultivation and crop rotation can help to reduce early infection; however, cases of the disease have been encountered on carefully cultivated fields and on the fields where maize has never been grown (Arny et al., 1971).

Eyespot disease may also be seedborne, but this source of inoculum is negligible compared to the number of spores produced on infested crop residues (Lipps and Mills, 2005).

Seedborne Aspects

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K. zeae has not been detected in seeds, but husks may be infected (Cassini, 1971). Reifschneider and Arny (1979a) detected K. zeae in 2% of seeds from ears inoculated under the husk. Jones and Baker (2007) report that K. zeae entered the UK via imported maize seeds.

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Leaves spores Yes Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches spores Yes Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye

Impact Summary

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Animal/plant collections None
Animal/plant products None
Biodiversity (generally) None
Crop production Negative
Environment (generally) None
Fisheries / aquaculture None
Forestry production None
Human health None
Livestock production None
Native fauna None
Native flora None
Rare/protected species None
Tourism None
Trade/international relations None
Transport/travel None


Top of page Economic losses to eyespot are uncommon (Walker Kirby, 1998); however, losses can occur when infection is severe; when much of the leaf area is blighted within 3-4 weeks after silking; when early and severe leaf blighting occurs on suceptible hybrids grown in no-till or reduced tillage fields; when defoliation from leaf blighting increases stalk rot (losses from lodged maize); and when the season is abnormally cool and the disease attacks maize earlier in the season (Lipps and Mills, 2005).


Top of page Leaf samples showing typical symptoms of eyespot should be collected and the pathogen isolated using a weighing method. Potato-glucose PDA medium can be used to re-isolate the fungus. Representative cultures are produced and uniembryonate cultures are obtained by a method of multiple dilutions. K. zeae grows best on 4% malt agar, and can be described to species level using monographs and identification keys.

Detection and Inspection

Top of page The first symptoms of eyespot disease can be seen in June, but most often they appear at the beginning of July, depending on atmospheric conditions. When inspecting fields for eyespot, look for typical symptoms on the leaves. The degree of infection can be estimated by determining the leaf area affected using a 5-degree scale where: 1° = 0.1-5%, 2° = 5-15%, 3° = 15-30%, 4° = 30-50% and 5° => 50% of the leaf area has spots.

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page Eyespot symptoms are easily confused with physiological changes caused by nutrient deficiency, particularly at the initial stages of the disease. Similar symptoms can also be produced by insect feeding (particularly by aphids) or the improper application of herbicides. Early spotting, caused by Curvularia, produces similar symptoms to eyespot.

Prevention and Control

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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.

Thorough cultivation and crop rotation can reduce early infection by K. zeae. Arny et al. (1971) recommend using a 3-4-year interval for maize cultivation in the same field. The amount of infectious material can be reduced by a suitable crop rotation and thorough ploughing and destruction of after-harvest residues, particularly from seriously infected plants. Deep ploughing of crop debris prevents sporulation of the stromas and promotes decomposition (HYP3, 2005) thus limiting early season spread.

Resistance to K. zeae is important in the control of eyespot and hybrids with some resistance to the disease should be planted. Susceptible hydrids include Julia, Heros, Agio and Aura; more resistant hybrids include Kosmo and Elsa. Even a known source of resistance such as the line Oh43 can be subject to infection in the case of epiphytosis (Reifschneider and Arny, 1983).

Fungicides registered for use against K. zeae include mancozeb, propiconazole, chlorothalonil and benomyl (Gay and Cassini, 1973; Pronczuk et al., 1996). For effective protection against K. zeae, seed dressings are recommended, followed by spraying the plants at the early stages of disease development when 1% or less of the leaf area is infected. More than one application may be necessary when conditions are favourable to the disease. The use of fungicides against eyespot can be prohibitively expensive, except on seed production fields (Lipps and Mills, 2005).

Pest control plays an important role in reducing the occurrence of eyespot, particularly the control of Aphididae and Thysanoptera, which feed on maize and can facilitate the penetration of conidia.


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Anon, 2009. Infection 'was not as bad as was first feared'. Farmers Guardian., unpaginated.

Arny DC; Smallej EB; Ullstrup AJ; Worf GL; Ahrens RW, 1971. Eyespot of maize, a disease new to North America. Phytopathology, 61:54-57.

Bohm H; Glaeser G, 1979. Report on the occurrence of important diseases and pests on cultivated plants in Austria in 1976. Pflanzenschutzberichte, 1976-1979, 45:7-12; 145-151.

Borecki Z, 1996. Polskie nazwy chorób roslin uprawnych. Polskie Towarzystwo Fitopatologiczne, 108-109.

Brekalo J; Palaversic B; Rojc M, 1991. Monitoring the occurrence and severity of maize diseases in Croatia from 1985 to 1989. Zastita Bilja, 42(1):51-60

Carson ML, 1985. First report of eyespot (Kabatiella zeae) of corn in South Dakota. Plant Disease, 69(2):177

Cassini R, 1971. Helminthosporium maydis, race T and Kabatiella zeae, two new pathogens of maize in France. Bull. Tech. Inf., 264/265:1067-1072.

Cassini R, 1973. Present state of maize diseases in France. Possibilities of control. ibid., No.1:4

Cassini R, 1975. Some pathological problems in cereal crop rotations. EPPO Bulletin, 5(2):141-151

Cassini R; Gay JP; Cassini R, 1972. Observations on the development cycle and survival structures of Kabatiella zeae. Annales de Phytopathologie. 4(4):367-371.

Chez D; Hudon M, 1975. Kabatiella zeae, a new maize pathogen in Quebec. Phytoprotection, 56(2):90-95

Corcuera VR; Sandoval MC, 1998. Early waxy and high quality protein maize inbreds: study of fungi diseases. Maize Genetics Cooperation Newsletter, No. 72:48-49.

Cross HZ; Wanner DW; Carena MJ, 2003. Registration of ND291 inbred line of maize. Crop Science, 43(4):1568.

Czaplinska S, 1981. Drobna plamistosc lisci (eyespot) - Kabatiella zeae Narita et Hiratsuka, nowa choroba kukurydzy w Polsce. Hodowla Roslin, 3:18-19.

Czaplinska S; Przybysz M, 1985. Niektóre aspekty biologii grzyba Kabatiella zeae Narita et fleckenkrankheit an Mais in Deutschland. Phytopathologische Zeitschrift. 74: 3, 457-482.

Dingley JM, 1973. ’Eye spot’ disease of maize in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research. 16: 3, 325-328.

Esteves A, 1984. Incidence of diseases under field conditions on maize (Zea mays) cultivars in Dourados. Fitopatologia Brasileira, 9(1):155-160

Frezzi MJ, 1972. Maize eyespot (Kabatiella zeae) and maize yellow leaf blight (Phyllosticta zeae) in Argentina. Revista de Investigaciones Agropecuarias, 5, 9(2):101-109

Gates LF; Mortimore CG, 1969. Three diseases of corn (Zea mays), new to Ontario: crazytop, a Phyllosticta leaf spot and eyespot. Canadian Plant Disease Survey, 49:128-131.

Gay JP; Cassini R, 1973. Possibilities of control of maize diseases by fungicide treatments during growth. Phytiatrie Phytopharmacie, 22(1):19-26.

Glaeser G, 1979. Report on the occurrence of important diseases and pests on cultivated plants in Austria in the year 1977. Pflanzenschutzberichte, 45(7-12):153-164.

Hooker AL; Smiljakovic H, 1979. Maize breeding for disease resistance. Proceedings of the tenth meeting of the Maize and Sorghum Section of Eucarpia, 17-19 September 1979, Varna, Bulgaria., 157-178; 65 ref.

HYP3, 2005. Eyespot of maize. HYP3 on line. Istitut National de la Recherche Agronomique.

Jones DR; Baker RHA, 2007. Introductions of non-native plant pathogens into Great Britain, 1970-2004. Plant Pathology, 56(5):891-910.

Kaiser SAKM, 1994. Occurrence of Kabatiella eyespot disease of maize at Kalimpong hills - a new record. Advances in Plant Sciences, 7(2):405-406; 3 ref.

Kashama M, 1979. Resistance to Kabatiella zeae in corn (Zea mays L.). Proceedings of the thirty-fourth northeastern corn improvement conference, New York, USA, 9-10 February, 22-23.

Levic J, 1987. Inheritance of resistance of the leaves of maize (Zea mays L.) to Kabatiella zeae Narita et Hiratsuka and identifying sources of resistance. Arhiv za Poljoprivredne Nauke. 48:170, 173-203.

Lipps PE; Mills DR, 2005. Eyespot disease of corn. Ohio State University Extension.

Lisowicz F, 1995. Occurrence of and damage by maize diseases in southern Poland in 1976-1992. Zeitschrift für Pflanzenkrankheiten und Pflanzenschutz, 102(3):307-311; 7 ref.

Lisowicz F, 1995. The most important maize diseases in Malopolska. Ochrona RoSlin, 39(2):10-11.

Lisowicz F, 2000. The occurrence and economic importance of maize diseases in Mikulice (south-eastern Poland) in 1993-1999. Journal of Plant Protection Research, 40(2):140-143; 6 ref.

Nanbo B; Thierry J, 1999. The return of Kabatiellosis. Phytoma, No. 513:24-25; 4 ref.

Narita T; Hiratsuka Y, 1959. Studies on Kabatiella zeae n.sp., the causal fungus of a new leafspot disease of corn. Ann. Phytopathological Society Japan, 24:147-153.

Palaversic B; Rozman L; Milevoj L; Celar F, 2001. The investigation of incidence of some maize leaf diseases in Croatia and in Slovenia. Zbornik predavanj in referatov 5. Slovensko Posvetovanje o Varstvu Rastlin, C^hacek~atez^hacek~ ob Savi, Slovenija, 6. marec-8. marec 2001, 458-463; 8 ref.

Palaveršic´ B, 2004. Diseases of maize seed crops. (Bolesti sjemenskih usjeva kukuruza.) Glasnik Zastite Bilja, 27(3):35-44.

Pencic V; Smiljakovic H, 1971. Investigations of the resistance of self-pollinating lines and hybrids of corn to Kabatiella zeae Narita et Hiratsuka. Plant Protection, Yugoslavia. Publikation, 22:115-116.

Popov A; Popova Y, 1979. Results of breeding disease-resistant maize. Proceedings of the tenth meeting of the maize and sorghum section of Eucarpia., 184-188; [1 fig., 4 tab.]; 9 ref.

Pronczuk M; Bojanowski J, 1993. Effect of Kabatiella zeae on fusarium stalk rot prevalence in maize. Hodowla Roslin, Aklimatyzacja i Nasiennictwo, 37(4):103-109.

Pronczuk M; Bojanowski J; Warzecha R, 1994. Eyespot: a new foliage disease of maize in Poland. Genetica Polonica, 35B:361-366; 10 ref.

Pronczuk M; Bojanowski J; Warzecha R, 1996. Preliminary evaluation of effectiveness of fungicides in protecting maize plants against diseases. Biuletyn Instytutu Hodowli i Aklimatyzacji RoSlin, No. 197:151-155; 6 ref.

Reifschneider FJB; Arny DC, 1979. A liquid medium for the production of Kabatiella zeae conidia. Canadian Journal of Microbiology, 25(9):1100-1102

Reifschneider FJB; Arny DC, 1979. Seed infection of maize (Zea mays) by Kabatiella zeae. Plant Disease Reporter, 63(5):352-354

Reifschneider FJB; Arny DC, 1980. Cultural and morphological variability of Kabatiella zeae. Transactions of the British Mycological Society, 75(2):239-241

Reifschneider FJB; Arny DC, 1983. Yield loss of maize caused by Kabatiella zeae. Phytopathology, 73(4):607-609

Santos Idos; Silva Ada; Malagi G, 2007. Occurrence of maize eyespot caused by Kabatiella zeae in Paraná and Santa Catarina state, Brazil. (Ocorrência de mancha ocular em milho causada por Kabatiella zeae no Paraná e em Santa Catarina.) Fitopatologia Brasileira, 32(4):359.

Schneider R; Kruger W, 1972. Kabatiella zeae Narita & Hiratsuka as agent of leaf spot disease on maize in Germany. Phytopathologische Zeitschrift, 74(3):238-248

Shurtleff MC; Edwards DI; Noel GR; Pedersen WL; White DG, 2000. Primary collators (last update 4/3/93). The International Society for Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions. Common Names of Plant Diseases. Diseases of Corn or Maize (Zea mays L.) IS-MPMI net.

UK CAB International, 1993. Kabatiella zeae. [Distribution map]. Distribution Maps of Plant Diseases, October (Edition 2). Wallingford, UK: CAB International, Map 506.

Walker Kirby H, 1998. Eyespot of corn. Pest Management and Crop Development Bulletin. Cooperative Extension Service, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Wegulo SN; Martinson CA; Rivera-CJM; Nutter FWJr, 1997. Model for economic analysis of fungicide usage in hybrid corn seed production. Plant Disease, 81(4):415-422; 25 ref.

Winter W; Menzi M, 1991. Inbred maize lines: infection and symptoms of important fungal diseases. Landwirtschaft Schweiz, 4(11):599-606; 14 ref.

Zwatz B, 1986. Importance of maize diseases in Austria with special consideration of varietal resistance. Pflanzenschutz, No. 6:8-10; [1 fig., 2 tab.].

Links to Websites

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GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gateway source for updated system data added to species habitat list.

Distribution Maps

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