Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Synchytrium endobioticum
(wart disease of potato)



Synchytrium endobioticum (wart disease of potato)


  • Last modified
  • 29 March 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Vector of Plant Pest
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Synchytrium endobioticum
  • Preferred Common Name
  • wart disease of potato
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Fungi
  •     Phylum: Chytridiomycota
  •       Class: Chytridiomycetes
  •         Order: Chytridiales

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Top of page
Wart outgrowth in the field (green warts have formed at the stem base).
TitleSymptoms in the field
CaptionWart outgrowth in the field (green warts have formed at the stem base).
CopyrightHans Stachewicz
Wart outgrowth in the field (green warts have formed at the stem base).
Symptoms in the fieldWart outgrowth in the field (green warts have formed at the stem base).Hans Stachewicz
Wart attack of the leaves.
TitleLeaf symptoms
CaptionWart attack of the leaves.
CopyrightHans Stachewicz
Wart attack of the leaves.
Leaf symptomsWart attack of the leaves.Hans Stachewicz
Strong wart attack of the stem base.
TitleSymptoms on stem base
CaptionStrong wart attack of the stem base.
CopyrightHans Stachewicz
Strong wart attack of the stem base.
Symptoms on stem baseStrong wart attack of the stem base.Hans Stachewicz
Plant with wart attack of tubers and stolons.
TitleSymptoms on tubers and stolons
CaptionPlant with wart attack of tubers and stolons.
CopyrightHans Stachewicz
Plant with wart attack of tubers and stolons.
Symptoms on tubers and stolonsPlant with wart attack of tubers and stolons.Hans Stachewicz
Tubers with typical wart attack
TitleSymptoms on tubers
CaptionTubers with typical wart attack
CopyrightHans Stachewicz
Tubers with typical wart attack
Symptoms on tubersTubers with typical wart attackHans Stachewicz


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Synchytrium endobioticum (Schilb.) Percival

Preferred Common Name

  • wart disease of potato

Other Scientific Names

  • Chrysophlyctis endobiotica Schilb.
  • Synchytrium solani Massee

International Common Names

  • English: black wart of potato; potato black scab; potato wart disease
  • Spanish: sarna negra de la papa; sarna verrugosa de la papa; sarna verrugosa de la patata
  • French: gale noire de la pomme de terre; gale verruqueuse de la pomme de terre; maladie verruqueuse de la pomme de terre; tumeur verruqueuse de la pomme de terre

Local Common Names

  • Germany: krebs kartoffel

EPPO code

  • SYNCEN (Synchytrium endobioticum)

Taxonomic Tree

Top of page
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Fungi
  •         Phylum: Chytridiomycota
  •             Class: Chytridiomycetes
  •                 Order: Chytridiales
  •                     Family: Synchytriaceae
  •                         Genus: Synchytrium
  •                             Species: Synchytrium endobioticum


Top of page Resting spores (winter sporangia) are mostly spherical, thick-walled, about 30-80 µm diameter. They tend to be integral components of aggregates or crumbs of soil.


Top of page S. endobioticum originated in the Andean zone of South America. It was introduced from there into the UK and from there to continental Europe in the 1880s, and into North America (Newfoundland) in the 1900s. It spread widely throughout the UK and the European continent in the early decades. The introduction of statutory measures limited its distribution, and it has spread to a limited extent only in other parts of the world (see list of countries).

S. endobioticum occurs locally in almost all countries in the EPPO region. Statutory controls (OEPP/EPPO, 1954-1968) have resulted in its fragmentary distribution only. There are also unconfirmed reports of its presence in Egypt, Lebanon, Iran, Korea (both Democratic People's Republic and Republic) and Zimbabwe.

See also CABI/EPPO (1998, No. 243).

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


ArmeniaPresent, few occurrencesEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
BhutanPresentEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
ChinaPresentBi and Hu, 2005; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-GuizhouPresentBi and Hu, 2005; CABI/EPPO, 2015
Georgia (Republic of)Restricted distributionEPPO, 2014; Gorgiladze et al., 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
IndiaRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-SikkimPresentEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-West BengalPresentEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
IranAbsent, unreliable recordEPPO, 2014
JapanAbsent, confirmed by surveyEPPO, 2014
Korea, DPRAbsent, unreliable recordEPPO, 2014
Korea, Republic ofAbsent, unreliable recordEPPO, 2014
LebanonAbsent, unreliable recordEPPO, 2014
NepalPresentEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
TurkeyRestricted distributionIPPC, 2007; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015


AlgeriaRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
EgyptAbsent, unreliable recordEPPO, 2014
South AfricaRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
TunisiaRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
ZimbabweAbsent, unreliable recordEPPO, 2014

North America

CanadaRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-Newfoundland and LabradorRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-Prince Edward IslandRestricted distributionIPPC, 2012; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015; IPPC, 2015
MexicoAbsent, formerly presentEPPO, 2014
USAEradicatedEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-MarylandEradicatedCMI, 1983; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-PennsylvaniaEradicatedCMI, 1983; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-West VirginiaEradicatedEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015

South America

BoliviaPresentEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
ChileEradicated1950EPPO, 2014
EcuadorPresentEPPO, 2014
Falkland IslandsPresentEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
PeruPresentEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
UruguayAbsent, confirmed by surveyEPPO, 2014


AustriaEradicated****EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
BelarusRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
BelgiumAbsent, formerly presentEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
BulgariaRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
CroatiaAbsent, formerly presentEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
Czech RepublicRestricted distribution****EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
DenmarkPresent, few occurrencesEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
EstoniaAbsent, formerly presentEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
Faroe IslandsPresentEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
FinlandPresent, few occurrencesEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
FranceEradicatedEPPO, 2014
GermanyRestricted distribution****EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
HungaryEradicated1971EPPO, 2014
IrelandRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
ItalyRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
LatviaRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
LithuaniaAbsent, confirmed by surveyEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015; IPPC, 2016
LuxembourgRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
MontenegroRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
NetherlandsRestricted distribution1914NPPO of the Netherlands, 2013; EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
NorwayTransient: actionable, under eradicationEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
PolandPresent, few occurrencesEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015; Przetakiewicz, 2015
PortugalEradicatedEPPO, 2014
RomaniaRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
Russian FederationRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-Central RussiaWidespreadEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-Northern RussiaPresentEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-SiberiaPresentMalyuga et al., 2003; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-Southern RussiaPresentEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
SlovakiaRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
SloveniaRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
SwedenRestricted distribution****EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
SwitzerlandPresent, few occurrences****EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
UKRestricted distribution****EPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-England and WalesRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-Northern IrelandEradicatedEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
-ScotlandRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015
UkrainePresentCABI/EPPO, 2015


New ZealandRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014; CABI/EPPO, 2015

Risk of Introduction



Notes on Phytosanitary risk

S. endobioticum is on the A2 quarantine list of EPPO (OEPP/EPPO, 1982), and is also of quarantine significance for all the regional plant protection organizations which have established quarantine lists. Though present in many countries, it has a very restricted distribution within them, which justifies its quarantine status. S. endobioticum sporangia persist so long in soil that it has hardly been possible to evaluate any differences in survival potential under differing soil and climatic conditions and in the presence of other plants. On the whole, in Mediterranean countries with warm, light, well drained soils, the disease is unlikely to cause serious direct losses, but its introduction and persistence could still be a problem.


Top of page S. endobioticum occurs in regions of moderate rainfall and temperature, propitious to the cultivation of potatoes.

Hosts/Species Affected

Top of page The only cultivated host is potato, but wild species of Solanum are also infected in Mexico. Tomato and a number of other solanaceous plants, including Schizanthus sp., Capsicastrum nanum, Physalis franchetii, Datura sp. and Solanum dulcamara are hosts by artificial inoculation.

Growth Stages

Top of page Post-harvest, Vegetative growing stage


Top of page The diagnostic symptoms of wart disease are galls produced on several plant parts.

Aerial symptoms

Aerial symptoms are not usually apparent. There may, however, be a reduction in vigour. Warts can be found in severe attacks on the upper stem, leaf and flower. Leaf stalks may develop hypertrophic 'wings'. Above-ground galls are green to brown, turning black at maturity, and later decaying.

Subterranean symptoms

Galls vary in shape but are mostly spherical, with corrugated surfaces, and range from pea-size to fist-size <1 cm to >8 cm diam.). Below ground galls are white to brown, turning black as they decay. These galls appear at stem bases, stolon tips and tuber eyes. They may not be evident until harvest-time. At harvest, galls may desiccate or decay. Tubers may be disfigured or completely replaced by galls. Tuber galls may develop after harvest, in storage. The host potato may not be killed but the meristematic tissue of sprouts may be so severely attacked that plants may fail to emerge from seed tubers. S. endobioticum does not attack the roots of potato but it does attack the roots of other hosts (e.g. tomato).

List of Symptoms/Signs

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SignLife StagesType
Growing point / distortion
Leaves / abnormal forms
Stems / canker on woody stem
Stems / distortion
Vegetative organs / internal rotting or discoloration
Vegetative organs / surface lesions or discoloration

Biology and Ecology

Top of page Life Cycle

S. endobioticum is an obligate, holocarpic, endobiotic parasite. It is long-cycled chytrid which does not produce hyphae but a thallus comprised of sporangia. Two forms of sporangia exist, so-called summer and winter sporangia (resting spores), which contain 200-300 motile zoospores. The summer or swarm stage results from host infection by haploid zoospores in which a sorus of one to nine sporangia form, and the winter or resting stage results from infection by conjugated (diploid) biflagellated zoospores. Both sporangial types germinate to release pear-shaped (1.5-2.2 µm diam.) zoospores. Motility is by means of posterior flagella. The resting (meio-)sporangia are golden brown, ridged and spheroidal (ca 35-80 µm diam).

If infection conditions are suitable, i.e. soil temperature and water, the rapidly reproducing summer sporangia release their zoospores thus setting up repeated infection cycles. At the same time, (meio-)sporangia (resting spores) are formed and, while conditions no longer favour the summer stage, the resting spores will overwinter in the infection zones of the potato. The resting spores induce hypertrophy of the infected tissue resulting in the so-called warts. This tissue will rot down in the soil during the winter months to release the resting spores into the soil. Resting spores can remain viable for decades. The ultimate lifespan has yet to be determined. The commonest means of spreading resting spores are by wart or soil distribution. Other limited means of distribution are by wind (over dried infested soil) or through animal droppings. The chitinous/melaninized wall of the resting spore is extremely chemo-resistant to common soil agents. Its resistance and longevity impact directly on control measures.


The fungus exists in many pathotypes. The pathotypes are defined by their virulence on differential potato cultivars. The common Pathotype 1 (European race 1) is found throughout the EPPO region and is the only one in many of the other countries. Other pathotypes, up to 19, occur in the wet montane areas of central and eastern Europe (e.g. Alps, Carpathians, Germany, Poland, former USSR). In Newfoundland, Canada, the common pathotype is #2, with pockets of #8. The pathogen persists in small garden plots and horticultural holdings but is not a problem in commercial potato crops. The private plots, nevertheless, present a control problem as the long-lived fungus can be disseminated through carelessness.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

Top of page S. endobioticum has a very limited means of spread and dispersal. Spread in soil by zoospores is limited (50 mm or less) to the infection zones of the plant. Soil water can carry zoospores downstream, although the lifespan of a released zoospore is 1-2 hours. Earthworms can move resting spores short distances. Wind is an active dispersal agent in regions of strong dry summer winds. Local dispersal has been shown in resting spores in soil attached to vehicles and contaminated manure. Long-range dispersal by tuber-movement, especially in international trade, attached soil and plants presents problems of control. Control though statutory methods has been largely successful due to the fungus' self-limited means of dispersal. The disease is essentially social, dependant on commercial crop and soil movement.

Seedborne Aspects

Top of page There is no evidence that S. endobioticum is seedborne on true seed of potato.

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Bulbs/Tubers/Corms/Rhizomes sporangia Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Growing medium accompanying plants sporangia Yes Pest or symptoms usually invisible
Leaves sporangia Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches sporangia Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Fruits (inc. pods)
Seedlings/Micropropagated plants
True seeds (inc. grain)


Top of page Wart disease of potato is so important that quarantine and domestic legislation has been in force globally for more than 65 years to prevent its spread and dissemination. In the 1950s and 1960s numerous EPPO publications were devoted to the disease. Once the pathogen has been introduced to a field of potato cultivation the whole crop may be devastated and unmarketable. Moreover, introduction into the soil not only renders the crop unusable but the soil itself cannot be used for further crop production due to the longevity of the fungus. Crops other than potato grown in this soil cannot be used for export. EEC Council Directive 69'464/CEE, 1969-12-08, requires the use of officially specified resistant potato cultivars in a protection zone around infested land. These (mainly applied domestically) stringent quarantine and sanitation measures have contained the disease in the EPPO region, and direct losses resulting from the pathogen are minimal. S. endobioticum generally has a much more limited distribution outside of Europe. Indirect losses arising from restrictions on the export of plants from infested areas present a problem to European countries.


Top of page

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and real-time PCR have been developed to diagnose Synchytrium endobioticum (Niepold and Stachewicz, 2004; Gent-Pelzer et al., 2010). The real-time PCR developed by Gent-Pelzer et al. was able to accurately diagnose the pathogen in zonal centrifuge extracts, warts and different plant parts of potato.

Detection and Inspection

Top of page A number of methods have been elaborated for routine soil testing. The principal method is to employ a wet-sieving technique; dry sieving is also used. Flotation on chloroform is also useful.

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.

Phytosanitary Methods

Control of wart disease of potato relies in the main upon statutory measures. According to OEPP/EPPO (1990) specific quarantine requirement, potatoes should derive from a stock free of S. endobioticum. Potatoes and indeed any kind of plants with roots (including bulbs, corms and tubers) for export, should not be grown in fields where S. endobioticum has occurred or is still present on account of the fungus' longevity factor.

In practice, this means an extensive system of 'scheduling' 'wart-infested' fields. This system relates back to the early 20th century epidemics. Fields may be 'descheduled' if they can be shown to be pathogen-free. Studies relating to this issue are in progress. The longevity factor of S. endobioticum is still a subject of debate and is the controlling factor in the 'descheduling' process. Those countries in which only pathotype 1 occurs are advised to determine that imported tubers come only from areas where other pathotypes have not been recorded. The common pathotype in Newfoundland, Canada, is pathotype 2; the island portion of the Province was quarantined in 1911, and remains in effect.

Host-Plant Resistance

Wart-resistance remains an important element to be considered in breeding programmes, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe. New screening methods have recently been described.


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Bal AK; Murphy AM; Hampson MC, 1981. Ultrastructure and chemical analysis of the resting sporangium wall of Synchytrium endobioticum. Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology, 3(2):86-89

Bi ChaoWei; Hu QiuLing, 2005. Integrated control technique of potato wart disease in Liupanshui of Guizhou province. Chinese Potato Journal, 19(6):369-370.

Bojnansky V, 1984. Potato wart pathotypes in Europe from the ecological point of view. EPPO Bulletin, 14(2):141-146

CABI/EPPO, 1998. Distribution maps of quarantine pests for Europe (edited by Smith IM, Charles LMF). Wallingford, UK: CAB International, xviii + 768 pp.

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Distribution Maps

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