Ustilaginoidea virens

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Ustilaginoidea virens
U. virens smut balls on a rice head
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Fungi
Division: Ascomycota
Class: Sordariomycetes
Order: Hypocreales
Family: Incertae sedis
Genus: Ustilaginoidea
Species: U. virens
Binomial name
Ustilaginoidea virens
(Cooke) Takah., (1896)

Sphacelotheca virens Omori{?}, (1896)
Tilletia oryzae Pat., (1887)
Ustilaginoidea oryzae (Pat.) Bref., (1895)
Ustilago virens Cooke, (1878)

Ustilaginoidea virens, perfect sexual stage Villosiclava virens,[1] is a plant pathogen which causes the disease False Smut of rice which reduces both grain yield and grain quality. The disease occurs in more than 40 countries, especially in the rice producing countries of Asia.[2] but also in the U.S.[3] As the common name suggests, it is not a true smut (fungus), but an ascomycete. False smut does not replace all or part of the kernel with a mass of black spores, rather sori form erupting through the palea and lemma forming a ball of mycelia, the outermost layers are spore-producing.[4] Infected rice kernels are always destroyed by the disease.

Of particular concern are the production of alkaloids in the grain as with the Claviceps spp. causing ergot.

Little is known of the exact life cycle of the pathogen. There is debate among plant pathologists at what time infection of the plant occurs. There are reports of early, systemic infections of seedlings and other reports of later infection at boot or flowering.


  1. ^ Tanaka, Eiji, Taketo Ashizawa, Ryoichi Sonoda & Chihiro Tanaka. Villosiclava virens gen. nov., comb. nov., teleomorph of Ustilaginoidea virens, the causal agent of rice false smut. Mycotaxon 106: 491-501. 2008.
  2. ^ Li, Y. Zhu, Z., Zhang Y., Zhao, L., Wang, C. Genetic Analysis of Rice False Smut Resistance Using Mixed Major Genes and Polygenes Inheritance Model. Acta Agronoimica Sinica. 2008 34(10): 1728-1733
  3. ^ Brooks, S., Anders, M., Yeater, K. Effect of Cultural Management Practices on the Severity of False Smut of Rice. Plant Disease. 2009. 93:1202-1208
  4. ^ Webster, R. K. and Gunnell, P. S. 1992. Compendium of rice diseases. American Phytopathological Society, St. Paul, MN

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