Kernel Smut and False smut: The Old-Emerging Diseases of Rice-A Review. Academic Article uri icon


  • Kernel smut, caused by Tilletia horrida, is the disease characterized by the replacement of rice grains with black sooty masses of teliospores or chlamydospores. Kernel smut differs from rice false smut, caused by Ustilaginoidea virens, in the color of chlamydospores. False smut is characterized by globose, velvety spore balls ranging from orangish-yellow to greenish black in color. Both kernel smut and false smut have been persistent but are considered minor diseases in many countries since they were discovered in the late 1870s-80s, due to their sporadic outbreaks and limited economic impacts. In recent years, however, kernel smut and false smut have emerged as two of the most economically important diseases in rice, including organic rice, in many countries, especially in the US. The increased use of susceptible rice cultivars, especially hybrids, excessive use of nitrogen fertilizer, and short crop rotations have resulted in an increase in kernel smut and false smut, causing significant losses in grain yield and quality. In this article, we provide a review of the distribution and economic importance of kernel smut, our current understanding of the taxonomy, biology, and epidemiology of kernel smut, and the genomics of the kernel smut fungus as compared to false smut and its causal agent. We also provide an update on the current management strategies of pathogen exclusion, cultivar resistance, fungicides, biological control, and cultural practices for kernel smut and false smut of rice.

published proceedings

  • Phytopathology

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Khanal, S., Zhou, X., & Gaire, S.

citation count

  • 2

publication date

  • November 2022